Why does your family go on vacation so often?
Not long ago someone asked me this question, and I was surprised, because I don’t go on vacation more than most people. I’m allotted a certain amount of weeks off per year, and I take that. Three weeks, to be exact.
But then I also realized it appears like we go on vacation because we are often off on some sort of adventure. A night in a hotel here, a trip to Portland there. A quick drive to Sonic for milkshakes or a trip to Mt. Rainier National Park to play in the snow. And suddenly, it looks like we do go on vacation a lot. So why do we do that? Why do we create these “Montague Adventures” as often as our schedules allow? Because of the most important thing I can give my kids.
This is why my family puts such a big importance on creating adventures wherever we can. It’s why we have chosen to forego a bigger house and why my wife and I both work extra hours and more jobs. The greatest gift I can give my children isn’t a big check after I die. The greatest gift I can give them is a lifetime ofmemories, shared moments that we can never get back and never recreate. So vacations and little adventures matter because it’s how I give my children the gift of what matters most: time. It’s the one thing that no matter how I try to save it, I can’t. Already, in the time it has taken to write this paragraph, my children are older and one step farther away from my home.
We spend so much time apart: at work, at school, at this thing or that. Giving each other the gift or your time is the best thing you can do, which is why I believe vacations matter. Because they get you away from the everyday world, away from being apart, and if you’re lucky, standing in a long queue at Disneyland playing Heads Up on your iPhone. It’s that easy.
Yes, vacations can be hard to save up for. You may feel the need to justify to someone why you spent the money on it. It’s not easy to save up for a vacation, because there is always something that is important that you need to do or pay for or replace. But carpet always needs to be cleaned, clothes always need to be replaced, and things always seem more important than a vacation.
But here’s the hard truth: you only have a limited number of days and hours and minutes to create memories with your kids. Which one is going to be more worth it it in the end?
You’ll never have another first trip to Disneyland, or first visit to Yosemite National Park, or whatever it is your family decides to do for vacation. You’ll never get another chance to get that first Junior Ranger Badge, the first fist bump with Dale or laugh about the awful hotel you stayed in or the time a cow stared at you in the middle of the highway or the wild donkey you fed through the window of your minivan.
You’ll always have carpet or a car or a pressing engagement or whatever that other thing was. Which do you think your kids will cherish more after you’re gone?
Vacations and mini-adventures may seem like a frivolous or expensive thing to spend money on. But I wouldn’t ask for any penny I’ve ever spent at Disneyland back, give up any mile I’ve put on my van, because for every dollar, I have at least ten more memories like the ones I’ve just mentioned. With my kids, with my best friends, with my wife.
The most important thing you can give your kids this summer isn’t another camp, another sport to practice. It’s time with you. Big vacation, small adventure. A night out for milkshakes or a road trip to Mesa Verde National Park. It’s not the what that matters, but the fact that you are doing it.
Time matters. And one day you’ll have moments when your family says, “Remember the time…?”