Dear Santa: Please bring us a vacation

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Dear Santa,

It’s been a few, huh? I haven’t written since the kids were little and all I really wanted was time to take a bath and read a few pages of a book.

Well, yes, if you insist on reminding me, I did ask for a break in laundry and chauffeur duties, as well. Whatever.

Now I need to ask for something else. I blame Gretchen. She will definitely need coal in her stocking, Santa.

Thanks to her, it recently became apparent to Camo Man and me that we do not know how to take a vacation.

I know, it’s completely embarrassing. That’s why you’re hearing from me now. I need to add “Learn to travel” to that list I sent last month.

As you know, Santa, trips in our previous lives looked much the same. He took the wife and kids to the coast and the mountains, drove to see friends and family. The Hagars did likewise, minus the hunting trips, of course.

Yup, you do remember correctly, I flew hither and yon a few times for writing conferences — for work — and I had a couple of weekends with just friends.

But those vacations you see in glossy travel brochures and on the pages of lifestyle magazines? No, and the sad part is, we haven’t the slightest clue how to vacation like there’s no tomorrow.

This whole mess is Gretchen’s fault.

Gretchen works at the bank where I have my home loan. This summer I was at a wedding shower (it was the summer for weddings, Sir, meaning you gave a fair number of couples that particular wish on last year’s Christmas lists) and sat next to a banker.

We made small talk, you know how women and elves are. She said she was staying busy at work, what with the great interest rates and all.

Low interest? Lower than what I was paying? Which, I will just say, I was told “It will never get lower than this!”

Oh, but rates did drop, and by nearly two more points.

So I did the “refi” shuffle and ended up with a little chunk of change at the end of things. “Of course,” I noted in pious tone to Gretchen the Banker, “I’ll stick this right back into the principal.”

“Pfft,” Gretchen said, more or less. “I’d go on vacation with it.”

“Ha ha ha,” I replied. “I never go on vacation.”

And there it was, firmly planted — the worm.

Not that I realized that at first, Santa. It’s like when you brought me the doll with pink hair ... who knew it would become my favorite doll and I would be devastated when my brother cut off those pink curls.

Now it’s like I have to go on vacation or die trying. We have friends who flit off all the time. Hawaii, Europe, Mexico, they’re more gone than home.

Camo Man and I, however, have a missing travel gene or something. We have no idea of where, how or when.

Choices, even in our econo-budget range, are overwhelming. What do we do when we get there? What if we miss out on something? How do we decipher vacation packages?

When I spoke of these woes to my friend Lara, she sat at my desk — hey, Santa, is it too late to add a new desk to my list? — and talked to me about going to exotic locales.

“Oh, I don’t want to have to get a passport,” I whined in ungrateful fashion.

“I can’t help you then,” Lara said.

“Right? I know, we’re hopeless.”

Recently Pilot Dude, who, as you know, Santa, flies lots and lots of people to their dream vacation spots, sent over some literature about Hawaii. Camo Man looked at what his buddy had picked for us to consider and looked at me.

“He thinks we can do this, Babe.”

We both laughed, loud and long, and ended with a sort of hiccup-sob.

Because the idea of boarding out our three teens and two dogs, packing for warm weather and disappearing into the beckoning skies seems like as big of a myth as you are, Santa.

Santa? Wait, that didn’t come out right. I didn’t mean it that way ... um ... anyway, I’ve been real good this year, Santa.

Love,

Sheila

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