As a primary school kid in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I distinctly remember that after each school holidays, our teachers would routinely ask us to write a story about what we’d done during our vacation time. I’m pretty sure that the majority of those What I Did on My Holiday stories were made up, because I went to a primary school in what was then a very low socio-economic area which was attended by kids from working, or not working at all, class families. I was no exception. Neither of my parents had finished high school – or gotten even close – and Dad worked on commission and Mum casually in a lowly paid blue-collar job.
Put simply, we were poor, and we didn’t go on away holidays, except for the one time that my Dad won some money on a horse race (another reason we were poor) and we had a week at the Gold Coast. I was seven years old at the time, but almost 40 years later I have the most vivid memories of that holiday – how the old Queenslander style house was just across the road from the beach, how each afternoon we were given money to walk to the shop and buy whatever we wanted, and how amazingly glamorous my bed on the enclosed verandah was with its purple chenille bedspread. So apart from the glorious tale I had to write about for my year 2 teacher Mr Trott, I had no experience of holidays until I was a young adult earning a wage which afforded me holidays away with my friends.
My seven-year old son has had more holidays in his life so far than I’d had by the time I hit 21. He’s been overseas twice, visited three Australian states and one territory, seen beaches, rivers, lakes, zoos, museums, theatres, giant bananas, big statues and overly large pineapples. He’s been sailing, canoeing and snorkelling and ridden in planes, trains, buses and tuktuks. He is the product of my parents’ – particularly my mother’s – insistence that higher education is the key to escaping drudgery. I may have missed out on holidays, but my mother ensured that I got a university education, which resulted in successful career that has enabled my son to experience so many things at such a tender age. He is utterly spoilt in terms of what he’s seen and done in his life so far, and I make no apology for that, in fact I am proud that he has been exposed to so many sights, sounds and experiences. It is an intergenerational gift.
Our most recent holiday was a first for us – we went on a cruise with two other families, aboard one of the giant ocean liners. It was luxurious, with unending food, and drinks, and music, and swimming, and parties, and a day on gorgeous Hamilton Island. And I feel so torn, with my seven-year old self looking over my shoulder, when I say that I really disliked it and couldn’t wait for it to be over. But the fact is, I really disliked it and couldn’t wait for it to be over. For me, and the other adults in our group, it was like being trapped on a floating caravan park that had been combined with a suburban RSL club. But for the kids, well, it was sheer bliss. Being together, swimming, hanging out, making up silly stories, playing games, running around, having your own table at dinner and slurping spaghetti straight from the bowl (I pretended I didn’t see it) – it’s the stuff of which What I Did on My Holiday stories are made.
Of course times have changed, and rather than an essay, I think my boy will likely give a PowerPoint presentation to his class next week. I suspect it will look a little something like this:
On my holiday I swam in this pool:
And this pool:
And this other pool:
I played with my best friend:
And then when on a catamaran ride with my best friend and my Dad:
And then I played with my best friend some more:
Meanwhile, my Mum had a case of what my Dad called Bitchy Cruise Face:
So he bought her a lot of these drinks called cocktails:
And after that she thought everything, especially this giant pepper grinder, was funny:
I think cruises are awesome and I would like to live on a cruise boat. My Mum said she didn’t like it, but I told her that on our next cruise, she just needs to have more cocktails.