When I arrived home I decided to ask some friends the question; "Would you be willing to take a cut in pay to receive extra days off"?
My first call was to a friend who not only works a full time job but also cares for an ill family member. She said she loved holiday weekends for they are free days off as her vacation days are earned. She explained she must work a certain amount of hours and once the required time is met a day is awarded however this time includes sick days as well as vacation time. I felt horrible but she said it was fine. While it gets emotional at times she does not regret having this time with her loved one. Sunset vacations are what you make of them.
Another friend has the vacation time and, like us, uses them for doctor appointments and an occasional day off for herself but a cut in pay or destination trips are out of the question. She is grateful for the little she can put away for a "rainy" day as she worries what will happen should her 11 year old car break down for good. Her sunset vacations are Sunday afternoons watching movies on TV and for now that is perfectly fine.
There were many answers on this quest for my story information but the bottom line was most are grateful to have jobs. A few of my fifty something friends said they did use their vacation time and have destination sunset vacations however never felt totally away fo they need to check emails and to stay on top of things. At their age they are nervous to be away too long and are always finding ways to step up their game.
This brought the Old Henry Tale "The Gift of the Magi" to my mind. The story is of a woman who sells the long hair she loves to purchase a chain for her husbands favorite gold watch; he in turn sells the watch to purchase her a beautiful hair broche. Some may say they both wasted something they cherished but they did not see it that way. The fact they gave and received loving gestures made the choice to give up something cherished wise. The same is true with cherished vacation time. When used wisely it is not a sacrifice.
As I type this I am no longer in a crowded airport but am on my living room couch. I can hear my husband and our dog Princess snoring in the bedroom. Kevin truly gives so much of his time for all of us and never complains or calls It a sacrifice.
The apple does not fall far from the tree as our son called us on Sunday from the same airport I left a few weeks ago to tell us he was boarding a plane as an early birthday gift for me. I smile as I see him through the window sitting on the balcony enjoying quiet time on this warm Georgia night.
So many times we carry our baggage of troubles to drop off centers and rush off to the once in a lifetime destination vacation. While on our trips we smile and wear our happy face mask hoping if we forget the bag for a while life will be better. What I am learning is the bag is there when we return. The few people I spoke with prefer to not ignore the heavy bag and use their time realistically and never feel victimized. Just like "the gift of the magi" they prefer to use their days wisely and with this attitude do not feel like its a sacrifice.
Sometimes I need to be reminded of what is important in life. I am blessed for friends who share their experiences as they are my greatest teachers. The lesson I learned through all of them is that the destination and amount of time is not as important as using the days we have lovingly and wisely.
From my window I see my son sitting on our wicker patio chair outside as the sun is setting. I feel grateful as when it is time to say good-bye I can go outside and sit in that same chair and will smile at the memory of this special sunset vacation moment.
Life is wonderful. Trips make us feel excited and happy and I would be lying if I said I never want to go away and sit by an ocean with sand on my toes sipping cold drinks one day. Life figures ways and that will one day happen.
A life of love with time used wisely is not wasted.
I am grateful for that Thursday afternoon and my airport experience for had I not gone the question may not have come to my mind. Sometimes we need the frustration inside the packed bags we drag around to drop off centers to find the true meaning of things.
Summer is here with longer warmer days. I now in my heart know what a real sunset vacation is and I do not need to buy extra time. All I have to do is open my door.