Fun, sun, family vacation, and laptops…One of these things is not like the other …three of these things are kinda the same…
Sorry for slipping into Sesame Street, but hopefully you guessed correctly: laptop. Why do we bring our laptops, and hence our work, on vacation?
Cape May, 2011, my extended family was on vacation – we’re talking my sister, my six brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, my husband, myself, our kids, (even my elderly parents for a few of the days.) First morning in the giant twelve bedroom beach house set the scene for several succeeding days. I came back from a run on the beach and headed to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee. I peered over it into the dining area where the 22-seat table looked like a conference room of staff members readying for a meeting. Coffee cups steaming, laptops open, my brothers and a few of their wives, all lost in their own world of news, shopping, random googling, and the dreaded sin-against-family-vacations: work. As comical as it was, I climbed over the mix of charger wires and legs, balancing my coffee, a few heads popping up and giving me a cheerful: “Morning”, and I cracked open my own laptop to check my email.
Of course, this was early morning, and as the little ones woke, and mothers and fathers busied themselves with the business of caring for them, and this one and that tugged at dads or uncles, clamoring for cereal and begging, “I want to go to the beach,” laptops closed one after another, and in no time, everyone was on the beach enjoying sand and surf. Some electronics followed even there, but only in the form of Kindles and Ipads for reading books.
Thankfully, as the week slipped by, the laptop use seemed to fade. Nights were long, joyous affairs, all the adults rocking away on the long front porch, some smoking, some drinking, all joking and reminiscing or enjoying a good argument or lively debate –as only those of Irish descent can. Young ones caught fireflies or curled on a couch, watching movies, or sat in cousin circles, sharing their own young version of the adult’s bonding banter. Every morning, I noted less and less laptop use. Even those whose jobs follow them to some degree wherever they go managed to more quickly dispense with business and return to the relaxing business of family vacation, sun, and fun.
So why do we bring them in the first place? Why the attachment to the World Wide Web or our job, where we have conceivably taken the week off and have informed them of the same? Who can say? Will the world fall apart without our knowledge of its comings and goings? Will work disappear? Will businesses fold? Are we so indispensable, we cannot be inaccessible? Perhaps, but if we let it, the spirit of family vacation will carry us away into sandcastles, lounging by the pool, sipping coffee, our eyes peeled for the sunrise, or sipping a drink and watching it set, scooping little ones back and forth in the surf, letting them bury us in the sand, or rocking into the night to the hum of happy chatter…
I’d advise you to leave your laptop home, but then I’d be a hypocrite. Mine is here now in North Carolina on our own extended-family vacation. Our house is packed with my sons and daughters, their husbands and wives, and our three grand-daughters. It’s no matter. For I know sun, fun, and family vacation will win out sooner or later. But I would prefer sooner, and so this blog piece will end for the greater good. I’m off to the beach with the little ones and wishing you all the best family vacations you can enjoy, laptops and all.