COMMENTARY: How I did nothing on my summer vacation

Mike Stafford took the first two weeks of August off for a very good reason: because he always does.
Mike Stafford took the first two weeks of August off for a very good reason: because he always does. Getty Images

Every year since I can remember, I’ve always scheduled two weeks of holiday time at the beginning of August. I don’t know why. It could be because it coincides with my birthday and I would rather not work on my birthday. It could be the tradition in media where people simply disappear from the staff lists in August, the end of the fiscal year.

I’ve been on too many staff cruises sitting next to people I knew were not going to be around much longer. That’s a bummer for your summer, so I just leave the last Friday in July and return in a fortnight.

As Lindsey Buckingham sings, “I found out long ago, it’s a long way down the holiday road.”

This year was no different and I’m back at work this Monday morning. So what memories can I share? What pictures of the mind can I paint about the last two weeks?

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Not much. I had a nice birthday dinner. The family was invited, as we are every year, to spend a few days at a very nice resort in Central Ontario. Grocery shopping, honey-do lists, etc.

By the time my vacation began, it was like the clock was working overtime. You wake up on a Tuesday morning and suddenly it’s Thursday afternoon. By the 10th day, I was tweeting that I couldn’t wait to get back on the air. That tweet also warned the millennials to never, ever possess that attitude.  As the late, great Warren Zevon said: “Enjoy every sandwich.” 

I grew up in suburban Toronto as the son of Northern Irish immigrants. We weren’t much of a summer trip family. When we were lucky enough to be invited to cottage country, there was usually some horrible event that put a damper on the occasion.  Our first, pathetic attempt at camping began with my mother taking a wasp sting to the neck.

READ MORE: What Canadians are Googling about camping on August long weekend

One summer at a place called Orr Lake, I developed an eye infection that required a trip to the hospital.  I’ve never liked camping since (unless the campsite includes a multi-story convention-worthy hotel/casino with a stocked in-room minibar).

And to be honest, my father was the antithesis of Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s VacationHis heart just wasn’t into the ideal family road trip. No Wally World for the Staffords.

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So we grew up every summer doing what the other kids in working-class families did in the neighbourhood. We’d wake up, eat breakfast and disappear for the entire day.

We always found ways to amuse ourselves without fretful parents wondering where we were all day. There were no “play dates” of highly structured time and activity. And when the summer sun set, we’d go home. Rinse, repeat, and before you knew it, it was Labour Day.

READ MORE: Sun, sagas, viking crafts — embracing Icelandic culture at summer camp

No summer fun pictures of trips posted to Facebook. No competing stories back at school about math camp, drama camp, or extreme sports camp.  It was a simpler time, I guess.

If you’ve had your summer break, I hope it was refreshing and not filled with the dreaded cry of today’s youth: “I’m borrrred.”

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If you’re scheduled to take a week or two this month, take each day at a time and make sure the clocks keep their proper time. Kick the kids out of the house and make sure they have a watch. Kids are terrible now at keeping track of time. Much like we were.

That reminds me. I have to go and check to see if my name is still on the office staff list.

Mike Stafford is co-host of The Morning Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto.

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