​​Because humor is funnier when you know it's true.

Not quite the Griswolds


I was thirteen, my sister nine, and my brother seven when my parents decided they’d subject us to a fun family vacation in Wisconsin. Prior to the trip, Mom purchased new fishing supplies, including a razor sharp filet knife.

My dad warned me that I was not to let my mother touch the filet knife.

The night before we left, while Dad was at work, Mom opened all the new fishing supplies to pack them in the tackle box. I told her Dad said not to open the filet knife. Predictably insulted, she ignored his warning, pulled the filet knife out of the case, and promptly sliced the tendons in two of her fingers. I applied a helpful tourniquet and Grandpa had to take mom to the emergency room for some stitches. The ER nurse later said she could very well have lost her hand because I tied it so tight. Mom, you’re welcome.

When she resumed packing later that night, into the trunk went a week’s worth of clothes for five people, fishing poles, tackle box, minnow bucket, fishing net, and lifejackets.

My mother also packed a weeks’ worth of groceries because the only grocery store within thirty miles of the fishing resort sold frozen pizzas for $10. And that was thirty years ago.

We got up at 5:00 a.m. and stumbled to the car with our pillows, candy, and word find books. At that point, mom and dad packed even more stuff around us, because because…did I mention? Before anything else went into the trunk, a huge boat motor had to go in.

By 6:00 a.m. we kids were all in the car heading north and by 6:01 a.m. we were all sleeping in the back seat.

My mother worked hard at teaching us to appreciate the beauty of nature, as well. The very instant we crossed the border into Wisconsin, she would shriek, “How can you sleep? Look at the pretty scenery!”

It woke everyone up, including my father, who was driving. Bleary eyed, I snapped some pictures but when the film came back they all looked the same. Green hill. Green hill. Green hill and a mysterious dot in the sky, which might have been an eagle.

There were no DVD players or iPods for distraction. My little brother fell asleep on our shoulders…and he drooled. My sister and I had to sleep upright like mummies, because of mom’s packing job.

If it weren’t for the M&M’s my mother would pack for the trip, it would have been downright miserable as opposed to just miserable. Oh, and my parents smoked like chimneys at the time. They did crack the windows, lucky for us. To this day, the combination of cigarette smoke and coffee gives me an instant migraine.


​​A week in a mosquito infested resort was the first vacation full of warm family togetherness. It was run by a bushy haired, wild eyed woman who would sullenly dip for minnows at 5:00 a.m., dressed only in her nightgown, cigarette hanging from her lip. We didn’t go back.

Looking back, I’m sure it was hard to keep three fairly young kids entertained for a week without television, but mom and dad patiently played endless games of Scrabble and Yahtzee. There were tiny kittens at the new resort, and I challenged my dad to a Yahtzee game to be able to have one.

I won. We named her Yahtzee.