ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Going green is a popular concept these days, from driving a hybrid to eating local, to taking a so-called staycation.
Commentator Laura Lorson remembers when staycationing wasn't trendy; it was just a description of what her family did pretty much every year.
Ms. LAURA LORSON: I attended a private school in Louisville, and every year we'd all come back from summer vacation and our teachers would ask, well, what did you do on your holiday? And while my family took its share a big whooper-do vacations every few years, I would generally have to say something like, oh, I went to Knoxville or I went to Indianapolis and enthusiastically talk about the children's museum there or the place we stopped for Soft Serve or something, and I'd sit back down.
Now, these days they call that sort of thing as staycation, going a couple of hours away, checking in out, looking around, coming back home. I had no idea we were doing something that was environmentally and fiscally responsible - possibly because it did not have a nifty term like staycation in the '70s to describe it.
Anyway, one of my classmates would inevitably get up and say something like, oh, we went to Florence - again. Now, I was at this school on scholarship and the idea that people jetted off to Italy or Switzerland was simply astounding. Who are you people, I would think. Who goes to Monte Carlo for a family vacation?
Anyway, one time I was talking about this trip my family took to Cincinnati, about two hours away, and mentioned that I had gotten to eat at the best restaurant I'd ever tried. You got to carry your own food tray, got your own fountain Coke out of the machine, you could get your own ice cream at the end of the meal. My classmates were all enthralled. And then, of course, it was Jennifer's turn. And with the air of the insufferably aggrieved, she told us about her parents forcing her to go to stupid Paris on the stupid Concorde and eating at some stupid place where they only spoke stupid French.
Now, I can't say that was I jealous of her experience; I was just curious as to why she seemed so unhappy. So the rest of the day passed, I got home, and the phone rang right as we were sitting down to eat. My mom got up and answered the phone, said hello. Yes, well, hello. It's nice to speak to you too. Oh, she did? Oh, she was? Oh, I see. Well, Ponderosa Steakhouse. Yes, I'm sure she will. Goodbye. And she sat back down, pressing her hand to her heart just laughing as hard as I had ever seen to this day. And a few minutes later the phone rang again. She had essentially the same conversation. The rest of the evening we kept getting calls from the parents of these children of privilege, begging my mother to reveal the name of the stupendously grand four-star restaurant to which she had taken her daughter: the Ponderosa Steakhouse, for which we had a coupon.
Now, the reason this story comes back to me is because I think it's a good reminder in these tight economic times that vacations are what you make them; pretty much anything is fun when you're part of a family that's in it together, doing the best you can, rich in laughter if poor of wallet, making memories and making the best of it all together.
BLOCK: Commentator Laura Lorson. These days she lives and vacations in Kansas.
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