The Grand Family Summer Swap…

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 | Uncategorized

…in which I talk about the upcoming family gathering and how I think we may need a new strategy.

We don’t really take a vacation in our house. We travel a fair amount, maybe three times a year, but it’s never really a vacation. We go to visit family for the big holidays, of course, and then once a year, in the summer, either we (Heather, Ansel and I) go up to see my brother and his little family, or they come down to see us. And, since we have the two cousins together for this one week of the year, my parents make a special trip to visit whichever is the hosting house for a few days, as well. It’s a great time and we always love the visit, but it still isn’t truly a vacation.

The Boys
They get along famously!

It’s really a pretty good setup, this way, for sure. Each year, one family basically gets free room and board to visit the other. We all cram into one house and go out and visit all the things that the others hometown has to offer. Last year, when we went to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, we had a fantastic time. Heather, Ansel and I had never been, and it was amazing. It puts our little Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History (with children’s activities) to shame. Ansel, being the weirdo that he is, was still a little freaked out, especially at the animatronic dinosaurs, so we’re looking forward to going again when he’s a little bit older (next year, or maybe even when he’s six), but I have to wonder how many times we can go on vacation to the same place, crash in the same house, and impose upon the courtesy of family again and again.

Likewise, even though Heather and I are both taking a week off of work for the familial visit, it doesn’t truly feel like a vacation because we’re not really going anywhere. On top of that, we’ve spent the last two weeks getting the house ready for the influx of people. It’s a chore that is both exciting and stressful. We love spending time with our family and wouldn’t miss one of these visits for the world, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we had some kind of vacation spot to all converge upon.

My dad’s got a timeshare and we’ve used it a couple of times on our own, as well as visiting them at certain locations, on occasion. Heather and I have even gotten some free trips out of simply going to see a timeshare and vehemently declaring “No, we don’t want to buy in, right now.” It’s a tough gig, but if you can stand by your guns, you can get some decent perks just for an hour or so of your time. Just be stoic and stubborn when the guy with the big gold rings comes over to make you one final offer.

Nevertheless, every time we walk out of a timeshare presentation, I think to myself, that we would really benefit from something like that. More than just a convenient place to stay on vacation, but effectively an obligation to go away once a year. The familial visit is a given every year, and without that obligation, we could very easily talk ourselves out of it each year. We’re funny people in that we’re not driven to leave town on a kind of walkabout every once in a while. Whenever we leave town, it’s always to go see family. What’s wrong with us that we can’t just pick up and go to the mountains? Or the beach?

A timeshare would not only facilitate that obligation, but also open up opportunities for a grand family vacation in some new and different locale. Why not all get together in Idaho? I’m sure there’s something worth seeing there. The problem with our current arrangement is that for one family, it’s a vacation, but for the other, you’re effectively running a Bed & Breakfast for the week. Hardly a vacation, even if you are spending it with the ones you love. I think as the years go buy, this is something we’re going to have to look into more and more, so that instead of having the Grand Family Summer Swap, we have the Grand Family Summer Convergence where we all pick a location, get the best deal on accommodations and just meet up in some place new.

We don’t need a timeshare for this, we just need the savings to afford a nice place to stay and the motivation to get out away from the house and forge into new lands. What’s waiting for us in Montana? Where is a nice place to stay in South Dakota? What does Pennsylvania have to offer? I realize that part of the appeal of our current arrangement is that only one family has to travel each year, and effectively shoulder all of the travel expenses, but there’s no reason why we can’t start planning for the future, and thinking of a new arrangement.

Then again, maybe Heather and I just need to schedule in a fourth trip, every year, just for the three of us. Somewhere, in all of this, a revolution awaits us.

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