My parents didn’t earn much money when I was young. Not long before Dad died, he found his final military paycheck stub sandwiched between old tax forms. Imagine his amazement when he viewed a monthly income of just over $500. Somehow, my parents never missed a mortgage payment, car payment, or utility bill. They managed to keep three children well fed and well dressed. Of course, my parents invented the stay at home vacation. We never travelled too far from home in order to avoid hotel or motel bills. All of us looked forward to Dad’s vacation time because we got to eat out three meals a day. We visited the missions, toured the zoo, explored Natural Bridge Caverns, and discovered nearby towns like Wimberley or Fredericksburg. My parents showed their creativity in other ways. One of my favorites? Open House Sundays! New home builders often showed homes and offered cookies and Kool-Aid. Sometimes, free hotdogs with all the trimmings lured us into new neighborhoods. I loved touring the model homes. In a way, I felt like I entered giant doll houses. We’d make up stories about the families that “lived” in these homes as we visited imaginary couples and their children. Through all of the “in town” vacations and Sunday Open Houses, I never realized these enabled my parents to give us nearly free outings. Instead, I saw these activities as fun and amusing. To this day, I still love taking day trips to small Texas towns. I don’t do Open Houses on Sunday afternoons, but I enjoy watching home improvement and decorating marathon shows. They are my pot roasts and mashed potatoes!
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman