The signs are all around. The July 4th holiday weekend is upon us. The weather is warmer everywhere. Voicemails and out-of-oﬃce messages have replaced almost all interaction. TSA lines are longer, and highway rest stops are busier than ever. It’s vacation season.
Vacations are important for so many reasons. It means family time, rest and rejuvenation – and perhaps time to unplug from the screens we spend so much time staring at. It’s hard to believe, but Nielsen reports that on average adults spend 11 hours per day on electronic media (live and recorded TV, radio, smartphone, personal computer, games, DVDs).
Vacations also involve diﬀerent kinds of meals. There’s no rush to get home, ﬁx dinner, and dive into homework or housework, or to chauﬀeur children from one activity to another. Lunches and dinners can mean leisurely restaurant meals, or dinner around a campﬁre, or a family barbeque or picnic.
I just spent 10 days on a sailboat with four friends, with a ﬂotilla of three other boats, sailing around Vancouver Island. The scenery was incredible; we sailed with dolphins, whales, sea lions – and we watched bald eagles soar above us, and bears forage for food on the shore. We gathered salmonberries, wild onions and seaweed. We attended a First Nation potlatch, and had joint meals and cocktails with our fellow sailors. We had little or no internet or cell phone connectivity, and spent our days sailing, reading, talking, ﬁshing, and cooking and eating. Meals were simple, local, straightforward, and entirely delicious. It truly was what vacation is intended — a way to rest and recharge – and return to a regular routine energized and relaxed.
It got me thinking about the regular routine. While it’s practically impossible to unplug today, it is possible to bring the sense of vacation to family dinners in the midst of our daily routines. Can we recreate that sense of spaciousness, connection, and delight every evening, for an hour or so? Family dinners can (and should) be a priority; they have great value, even beyond the nutrition they provide.
Why not take a lesson from your vacation? Give it a try. I plan to.
Sara Baer-Sinnott, Oldways president