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Winter staycation can be busy, just not too productive

Given the choice of "use it" or "lose it," the decision was easy.

My computer chimed to let me know I had a new email. I expected to learn that some credit card company was offering a fabulous interest rate or that I’d won part of an immense Nigerian fortune.

  

It was even better than that: My vacation request had been approved.

  

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Even before the boss said yes to my request to use my remaining vacation days, I had started compiling a list of how I planned to use that time.

  

The year was quickly coming to an end, and choosing "use it" didn’t require a lot of thought.

  

So starting tomorrow, I’m on vacation.

  

We take mid-winter vacations most years — the older I get, the more necessary it is to break up the winter by spending a week somewhere warm, where the most important things on the to-do list are "apply sunscreen" and "eat papaya."

  

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Even though the timing is good — Carla and Steven are on Christmas break — this vacation would be spent at home, which still requires some planning to maintain family harmony, eliminate boredom and prevent someone from saying, "I wish I could go back to work" by 9:30 Tuesday morning.

  

So sometime around Thanksgiving, I started putting together my vacation to-do list:

• Clean basement.

  

• Read a book.

  

• Write a book.

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• Vacuum.

  

• Stay up late (I crossed out 10 p.m. and wrote 10:30 p.m. because life is short.)

  

• Scrub bathroom.

  

• Clean fish bowl.

  

• Turn off cellphone.

  

• Do laundry.

  

• Watch "Christmas Vacation."

  

• Pay bills.

  

• Dust.

  

• Turn off alarm clock.

I also listed "tune up snow blower" because this weather probably isn’t going to last, and "tune up lawn mower" in case it does.

  

I put a question mark next to "Play with Steven’s Christmas presents," since we didn’t know yet what was in the boxes under Grandma’s Christmas tree. A new video game will keep you occupied a lot longer than new socks will, but since he was hoping for a popular game called something like "Total Annihilation Warfare Maximum Punishment Obliteration Death Force," I was hoping Grandma got him socks.

  

I had "Watch Viking game" on my original list, but removed it three weeks ago. The paper was battered in that one spot where I had erased it, scribbled over it with black Magic Marker, slathered it with Wite-Out and jabbed it with a fork.

 

Now that I had official confirmation that I would be on vacation, I pulled out my list to review how I planned to spend the week. Suddenly it seemed that there were too many things that didn’t fit into my definition of "vacation."

  

A vacation is the one week a year when you can drink exotic drinks with little umbrellas in them without feeling guilty. The basement will still be there the other 51 weeks, waiting to be cleaned. Regardless of when you scrub the bathroom, you just have to do it again in a couple of months.

  

I crossed out some of the items that seemed to have a minimal "fun" value, added "drink exotic umbrella drink" to the list and borrowed a Don Ho CD from the library.

  

A vacation at home is still a vacation.

  

Since I was feeling especially reckless, I went back up to the top of the list, crossed out the 10:30 p.m. next to "stay up late" and wrote 11 p.m.

  

If you’re going to go crazy, you might as well go all the way.

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