I love making lists. I’m not so good at following the lists, but I like making them. There’s something great about putting everything down and being able to see it at once. To tease out the bits you forget.

Whenever we go on a trip, my father makes us make lists. He sits the family down and asks us what we want to do during the duration of our away-from-home.* He writes down what we say and puts it somewhere prominent. About once a day he asks how we’re doing on marking things off. He tries to help facilitate us doing everything we’ve put down. He also reminds us that if we don’t do everything, it’s our own fault.

A photo of a garden

“Spending time with Dad” turned into “dig a big hole and build a garden.” Be careful of your execution!

Doing everything on the lists I used to make was easily impossible, improbable, or just not fun. When you have ten people to see, three museums to go to, two hikes, five restaurants, and a long drive somewhere pretty, you’re not going to do it all without really trying and pushing. This leaves no room for laziness, something coming up, or just taking time to enjoy what is around you.

I learned a trick for keeping Dad off my back: have simple goals, have few goals, have abstract goals. On our most recent trip to see my grandmother, my goals were:

  • Go swimming every day
  • See Savie (my grandmother -m.)
  • Have bonding experiences with my family

I did every one of these things!

A photo of three children playing in a pool

Even back in the 90s, my goals were pretty much the same, just poorly worded. (My brother–PD, me, my cousin–CC.)

I do this with all the trips I go on. When my gaming friends from college had our second reunion, the list I put together included:

  • Go swimming every day
  • Play games
  • Hang out with my peeps
  • Ride a bike
  • Drink
A photo from a giant maze

A human maze is like a game, right? Those are my peeps. Bam! Success.

I didn’t ride a bike, but part way through the week, I accepted that as my own damn fault. The act of getting a bike was more than I wanted to deal with.

In anticipation for my upcoming summer vacation, I find myself thinking of all the things I want to do. These are unintentional thoughts, excitement and nervousness creeping into my mind when I should be focusing on other things. Like work. These flights can be distilled into actual desires rather than moment possibilities. Seeing a long list of people has turned into “Spend time with people I like and people I love.” A fanciful list of activities in truth represents “Have an adventure.”

M.’s Summer Vacation 2012 Goal List

    • See some of my favorite people
    • Meet some new cool people
    • Learn something new
    • Understand something I didn’t before
    • Have an adventure
    • Listen to great music
    • Drink

I am totally confident all of these will happen. If nothing else, DA feeds me wine at Fest, so that’s two things in one go.

*The lengths I will go to to not use the word “trip” twice in a row.


A brief commentary about the use of the term “holidays” in the media.

I don’t mind the phrase “Merry Christmas.” I don’t mind the phrase “Happy Holidays” either. “Happy Hanukkah” and “Joyous Kwanzaa” are good too. I get various forms of “Blessed Solstice.” Festivus. Wikipedia has a nice list.

What I find interesting is the use of the generic “holidays” with obvious Christmas imagery.

I would like to point to two Glade candle commercials.

The first is from 2008, the second from 2011.



The first one has gingerbread men, which is a fairly Christmasy tradition. The second uses the phrase “make your holidays come alive.” They never specifically say Christmas, but their visuals include things from gingerbread men, a Christmas tree, Frosty the Snowman, and even Santa Claus.

I will now point you towards Maria Bamford’s Target Christmas Sale ads.

These creep me out. There are many, many things awful about them. However, she just right out and says it.

While it’s easy to argue that “holidays” is more inclusive, it feels disingenuous to assume that using the phrase makes it okay to then have Santa Claus. I don’t think it’s wrong to have Santa, I just think it’s ridiculous to use the phrase “holidays” and Santa in the same image.