Over the years, we’ve taken about seven or eight vacations. When David worked as a freelance illustrator, we often couldn’t take trips because we couldn’t absorb the loss of a one week or two week’s pay on top of the cost of a vacation. Many people take for granted the paid vacation time they receive from companies; but for the self-employed, it’s an entirely different story. With our family escapes coming years apart, David never liked returning to a place we’d already stayed. A couple of times we visited friends, but most of our excursions took us to some place new to all of us. Sometimes, we stayed in Texas to enjoy local outings at Renaissance fairs, or we ventured to Galveston or Padre to worship sand and sun. A week at Big Bend National Park remains one of my favorite memories, and we fell in love with the town of Gonzales with its marvelous homes and quaint shops.
When money and time synched up, we ventured far from home. We took Paul to Washington, D.C. to see Fonzie’s jacket and the Washington Monument, dipped into Virginia for rollercoaster rides and walks along battlefields. A trip to Georgia to stay with friends found us climbing Stone Mountain. We journeyed to San Francisco for cable cars, Height Ashbury, The Exploratorium, and Chinatown. Our stay in Seattle found us at museums one day, the Pike Place Market the next. We delighted in rolling in several feet of snow on Mount Rainier. Last year, David and I finally took our honeymoon with a trip to Ireland!
I don’t know exactly when we began commemorating our vacations with decorations for our Christmas tree. On one trip, we longed to have some little token of our travels that didn’t cost too much and wouldn’t break on the return trip. Somehow, we settled upon an ornament. We thought it the perfect souvenir because we knew we’d take a moment to relive our trip each year as we adorned our tree. We’ve had to create some unusual mementos since we took several trips during the summer months when stores didn’t have Christmas ornaments on their shelves. The search for the ideal keepsake often became a family quest as each of us sought the finest reminder of our travels.