When I was a kid, especially growing up the eldest of seven siblings, holidays were the stepping stones of happiness through each year. As soon as one was celebrated, we immediately looked forward to the next one. My grandparents held huge family 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas parties and dinners every year, and I attended all of them until I was 17.
When I had my own kids, two of which were born on Halloween (three years apart), I continued the tradition of celebrating as often as holidays came upon us. It was especially nice when they were a national holiday, meaning I could get an extra day off to stay with my family. Yes, Halloweens were extra-special in our house, with us usually have a double birthday party with lots of their friends.
As my kids grew up and I remarried, and with great distance between me and my kids and relatives, holidays became more of a meaningless chore than a reason to celebrate. It stopped making sense for Nadyne and I to give each other presents for birthdays or Christmas, since we usually bought whatever we wanted that made sense without waiting for a holiday excuse to do it. Besides, she was spending our money on me and I was spending our money on her. Holidays, other than getting time off work, stopped having the importance they had when there were children around.
Now that we are retired and not working, holidays are back to being happy stepping stones through the years, though without the excitement they once evoked. Being on the road, we love to visit all of our family members, wherever they are, but don't necessarily wait for holidays to do so. It's more about the geographical timing of our schedule. Independence Day fireworks at a son's house or birthday dinner with a daughter are always something to look forward to.
As a young adult, I enjoyed watching classic movies. "Holiday Inn" (1942, with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds and music by Irving Berlin) became one of my favorites. This is about a quaint Connecticut inn that some popular show business stars buy and hold holiday performances in. This is the first venue in which Bing Crosby sang "White Christmas," and it was so popular that it spawned his movie of the same name. I never miss Holiday Inn when this movie is on at Christmas time.
One thing about not getting caught up in the commercialism of each holiday is that we can enjoy the holiday itself. Also, we are happy to take advantage of seasonal sales for our own purposes. Why buy electronics in August when the Christmas season is around the corner?
One great thing about being in campgrounds during holidays is that campers are in a festive mood and are wanting to share good times with strangers. Many strangers become friends and we love to catch up with them as our itineraries cross. Thanksgiving in an RV resort can be wonderful!
Just as a sunrise can fill someone with hope and determination for the coming day, so can New Years Day be a day of resolution to be better, wishes for dreams and ambitions, and hope for humanity. After all, it's called "New Year's Day," not "Old Year's Passing Day."
I think there has been a bit of Internet fatigue in this election season, so I'm not surprised that I had fewer comments this past week. The ones I received were great and I've included some of them here. As always, they may be paraphrased or edited.
BLSMSS- Holidays make me happy as they are celebrations -- days that most of us try and enjoy as other things in our lives may not be joyful. As my children and grandchildren have grown, holidays have changed yet my children try and celebrate them as we did when they were little. Holidays gets us together in some way to reminisce and come up with new ideas for the next. My favorite holiday has been and will always be Christmas. It makes my heart so full to see the grandkids open up presents, the beauty of putting up my villages, tree and lights and the real meaning of Christmas.
Richard, Deb and Wally- Used to be getting together with all the family, grandparents was my favorite thing about holidays -- laughing, conversation, catching back up with everyone. Then there's the FOOD! I loved the holiday food, making cookies at Christmas with Mom and grandma, fruitcake that only few liked, bowl of nuts you had to use cracker and picks to get the nut out. Hard candy, seeing Santa, playing in the MN snow -- nothing like it.
Warren and Terry of NE PA- When we had our sticks-and-bricks house out in the country we would have 4th of July at our house with fireworks. We would have family and friends over with a big cookout. Thanksgiving is at our oldest daughter's house with family in Ohio. Then Christmas would be either at our youngest daughter's house or our son's house in Pennsylvania. We still do Thanksgiving and Christmas the same but not the 4th of July.
Steve R.- Holidays are every day, but more special when we get see our nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with one more on the way. I think I have the right count...
Nadyne H.- Holidays now, in our retirement AND living full-time in our RV, are much different today! There were the holidays when the kids were still living at home, then the holidays when the kids were gone and we had young grandkids, that was still fun and exciting! Then the grandkids grew up and we started getting great grandkids! I used to look forward to any holiday just to be off work, sort of a mini-vacay! Nowadays, we are off everyday, there are no children, grandchildren or great grandkids around so we usually enjoy the hoopla around us at whatever RV resort we are in! We’ve had Thanksgiving dinner with 100 other strangers and met new friends. We have spent Christmas Eve going to dinner with people we’ve never met and really enjoyed ourselves. There are no “strangers” when you holiday in an RV, just friends you have not yet met!
I'll finish up with a quote from Canadian actress Rachel McAdams, who said, "I had a lovely childhood. For family holidays, we went as far as the car could take us - we would drive to Florida, even though it would take three days. I didn't know we didn't have a lot of money because there was always food on the table. I didn't have a lot of stuff, but I did figure skating for a long time, and I always had my skates."
My first hike occurred when I was in the Boy Scouts at age 14 in the Los Angeles area. My troop's leaders drove us up into the San Gabriel Mountains to a trail head and we proceeded to hike six miles up into the forest. I hated every minute of it.
We set up camp for the weekend and then on Sunday, we broke camp and hiked back down the trail, a bit easier walk, but I was still not a fan. I had overpacked, which wasn't ever going to happen again. A few months later we hiked one of the Seven Peaks trails in the San Bernadino Mountains. That was the first time I had climbed to a mountain peak. Looking down over the valley below, mostly of which was barely visible through the smog, was exhilarating.
Health-wise, hiking is one of the best all-round activities you can do. Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book, "ReSYNC Your Life." Samir Becic: hiking increases fitness, allows you to take control of your workouts, tones the whole body, helps prevent and control diabetes, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and may improve the antioxidative capacity in the blood of oncological patients, helping to fight off the disease. It's a social activity that increases creativity, increases happiness levels and curbs depression, and allows you to commune with nature.
My own preference for hiking really stems from my vagabond spirit -- there is only so much of nature to see from the highway. On one of my hikes in the mountains when I was in my twenties, about five miles from the road we came across a car, probably circa 1920's, rusted nearly completely imbedded into the mound of dirt in which it was sitting. On another walk at Lake Mead, outside of Las Vegas, there was a dilapidated pleasure boat from the fifties or sixties sitting on the desert floor, in an area recently exposed from the lake's retreat due to drought. You just never know what you're going to see. Also, the farther you are from civilization, the more apt you are to see wildlife -- in the wild.
We in America are so fortunate to have city, county, state and federal departments that create and maintain hiking trails in all 50 states. You can hike in so many terrains, too, including sandy desert, rocky mountains, thick forests, alpine elevations, spongy tundra, dripping wetlands, lake or ocean beaches, and so much more. Although public abuse of those trails has begun to force some trail closures or additional fees, there still seems to be a commitment by the appropriate agencies to keep lands available to use. Also, there are many volunteer groups that periodically tend to trails and trail heads.
I received many great comments from friends and followers about this topic. Here are just a few those, with some paraphrasing or minor editing:
Hank and Shirleen- We like to hike. We love nature, but at our age it must be fairly level and not too long.
See Spot Run RV- I love to hike. If you listen you can hear the quiet and at the same time you can hear the breeze or the bird or other animal. Hiking simultaneously gives me peace and energizes me. I enjoy the different plants and trees and animals I see. I like to become one with nature so when I see an animal, we can just look at and admire each other. I enjoy hiking along a creek or river and seeing waterfalls and especially when I see things I don't normally see. Hiking is adventuresome and at times go to places most people never see. Wow, I could go on forever. Hiking is just wonderful!
Warren and Terry of NE PA- My wife and I love to walk, getting out there on the trails and seeing nature. Also, just about all trails have geocaches, so we can do some geocaching. I have a back problem and moving helps. I've also lost weight which helps not only my back problem but also with overall health.
Jessica H.- I was lucky enough to grow up living in the woods, and now that I have kids of my own, they, too, live and love playing in the woods!
Shelley A.- Hiking is very peaceful. I try to choose hikes where I don't have cell service. I don't have a care in the world when I am hiking. I don't think about my problems or work at all -- a complete reset for me. Hiking keeps me calm and peaceful, and it provides great exercise!
Ayub B.- Hiking is no less than a journey into self, soul searching, an exercise in self discovery and a return to pure innocence.
Nadyne H.- It seems to me that when Jack picks a trail, that trail will most likely include mud...
Gabrielle C.- I love hiking! This has been one of the best ways for me to get to know this country since moving here!
Sarah H.- I go hiking and trail running at least three times a week! Luckily, there are four or five great spots within a couple miles of my house and work.
John H.- Spectacular views spark imagination and inspiration. Whether you are a casual observer or a professional photographer, nature always provides an equal opportunity.
Bill J. and wife Diane M.- We look for trails at every stop and take the easy and moderate ones when we can, up to about four miles at a time. Right now we are taking sections of the Discovery Trail that runs from Ilwaco, Washington, through the woods and then along the the Pacific Ocean to the north end of Washington's Long Beach.
DeeperStill- I am in Ocean Park, Washington, for two more days. After getting repairs done on my brand spanking new Winnebago View, I will be hiking up at Ledbetter tomorrow with friends.
Theramblingquilter- We just spent a month in the Smokies and hike different trails there. So peaceful and relaxing. We also love riding the rail trails that are popping up all over the country. So much safer and relaxing than riding in the roads.
Peggy C.- My knees won't let me to anything but short walks and hills are out. Love looking at pictures though.
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- I have a really different reason for hiking. I do like nature, but I also know nature provides great benefits, not just to the mind and spirit, but to the body, beyond the benefits of exercise, as well. As we traverse trails we kick up soil-based organisms (SBOs) that are inhaled and provide better immune functions and increase our ability to fight off disease.
I'll end with a quote American journalist Nicholas Kristof, who said, "Wilderness trails constitute a rare space in America marked by economic diversity. Lawyers and construction workers get bitten by the same mosquitoes and sip from the same streams; there are none of the usual signals about socioeconomic status, for most hikers are in shorts and a T-shirt and enveloped by an aroma that would make a skunk queasy."
The first time I used the Internet to learn how to do a household repair was for a broken 37" LCD TV. It would have cost over $400 to repair in a shop, more than half of the purchase of a new TV, which was usually at the top of my pain threshold. Since it was either repair it myself or throw it away, I really had nothing to lose. The problem had been that the TV would turn on and run for about a minute, then power off, no matter the video or power source. I went to YouTube and searched for the issue along with the TV's make and model and viola! There it was!
I watched the fifteen-minute video three times and became confident that they had accurately described the issue and the resolution. I opened up the back of the TV, which was difficult with 14 screws in odd places, and documented where the screws had come from. I located the board that was supposedly the problem and disconnected it. I then called a few TV repair shops that advertised that they sold parts and got quotes for the board as well as some confirmation that this was the issue. The new board only cost $59 and I picked it up from the shop when they called to say it was in, just about two weeks later. I installed the new circuit board and reassembled the TV (all but one screw, which I couldn't find the spot for), plugged it in and stood back. I pressed the power button on the remote and the TV's picture slowly appeared. About ten anxious minutes later it was still on and running properly and I felt pretty good about myself. That TV went on for another two years before we gave it away when downsizing to move into our fifth wheel.
Many of us take the Internet for granted. I come from the BI era (Before Internet), I once owned a computer sales and repair shop and had five four-drawer file cabinets just to collect and store manuals and tech data for everything we sold or worked on. With each model update, we had to a) know about it, b) request info for it, and c) file the paper manuals and tech data we received, assuming we did. If we had an odd repair on something for which we didn't store specs or schematics, we would have to call the manufacturer, which could mean hours on hold before talking to someone who may or may not speak English well, and wait for the manual and repair instructions to come in the mail, or later, via email. If you were the unfortunate customer waiting for your essential equipment, it might be quite a wait.
I remember when Seagate, one of the largest hard drive manufacturers in the country, placed all of their tech manuals online, right on their site. Many a tech had tears in their eyes. Western Digital soon followed, then Hewlett Packard, IBM and everyone else. Eventually consumer manufacturers caught up and put their manuals online, realizing that their own support volume would be reduced, which happened.
That is the technical specifications side of repairs, but you were still dependent upon technicians to diagnose and repair your equipment, and that wasn't always cost or time effective. Enter YouTube and the mighty geeks who decided to show off their skills. Repair videos became so popular that more and more types of content were created, including how-to, when to and why to videos for the RV and travel industry and for the millions of homeowners wanting to DIY.
When I wanted to install my fifth wheel flooring, I watched videos on the various choices, selected one, and then several more videos on how to purchase and install it. It was a two-day job, but it turned out well and was a fraction of the cost of having a pro install it. When my awning switch went out, or my refrigerator stopped cooling, or my generator refused to start, the Internet came to my rescue, though I did decide to let a tech do some of those repairs. It was an informed choice.
Other uses of this valuable resource include automotive and engine repair, hobbies (i.e. RC planes and drones), plumbing, gardening, birding, and on and on and on. I recommend doing electrical repairs yourself, obviously an electrician should be hired whenever possible, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't become an informed consumer beforehand.
I didn't receive many comments about this topic. Again, I'm blaming people's apathy regarding anything related to the Internet these days. Here are just a few comments, with some minor editing:
Humdrum Hermits- We have definitely made use of online repair instruction! It has been an invaluable resource for naturally socially distant (introverted) people like us. The RV Cool video on replacing a cooling unit was our step by step instruction for fixing our 15 year old RV fridge, and we feel especially good about it because we took the time to really do it right. We're not sure that a repairman would've taken the time to do the extra taping and other things we did to enhance the insulation. By learning to do it ourselves thru online instruction, we feel confident in the repair and built up our confidence for the next repair.
Nadyne H.- I love this availability online! Several times we've been able to fix something ourselves by watching a video! If nothing else, we can find out what needs to be done and a repairman may have a harder time taking advantage of us.
Mary Lou C.- David Loves researching information online, especially YouTube. Everything in his technical decisions come from hours of online research. I just have to hang on for the ride.
I take this quote by Apple CEO Tim Cook to heart. When speaking about online information, he said, "We shouldn't all be fixated just on what's not available. We should take a step back and look at the total that's available, because there's a mountain of information about us."
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.