It was the summer of 1997 and my parents’ white Dodge Grand Caravan was packed to the gills with more suitcases than my dad thought was reasonable. My mom sat up front, prepared for the drive with a bag of magazines the height of a step stool. I rolled my eyes to the top of my thirteen-year-old head as my sisters and I crawled into the minivan, relaxed upon the maroon cloth interior, and settled in for a road trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Driving from St. Louis to Myrtle Beach would take two days. Two days in a minivan with my younger sisters and parents, from my pre-teen vantage point, would seem like an eternity. In 1997, we had no cell phones, tablets, or movies to watch on the drive. What would I do without AOL and instant messaging? Well, as it turns out, I did not have to worry about that because before we even pulled out of the driveway, my mom handed my sisters and me the most coveted toy of the 90s ~ a Tamagotchi.
In case you are unfamiliar with this 90s toy sensation, let me paint you a picture ~ this tiny egg shaped toy contained a small computer screen with three buttons. Once your egg hatched on the screen, you had to play with, feed, and clean up after your Tamagotchi in order to nurture your baby to a quality adult. This toy was so coveted by pre-teens in the 1990s that stores across the country were completely sold out. I was as attached to that Tamagotchi as I am to my iPhone today, and my sisters and I felt as if we had hit the jackpot.
Other than playing with the Tamagotchi on the drive to Myrtle Beach, I have a hard time remembering much more of that family vacation. I remember boogie boarding at the beach, singing with my sisters to Hanson’s Middle of Nowhere album, and searching with my dad for a legendary cemetery based on a maritime ghost story. But come to think of it, maybe those are the parts worth remembering.
So as my husband and I plan a family vacation of our own, I realize that now, I have three real-life Tamagotchis. They eat, sleep, play, and make messes, but are much louder than my toy back in the 90s. And while I want our family vacations to create joyful nostalgia for my children, I am reminded that it isn’t necessary to pack vacation schedules with excursions and reservations. In fact, if the memories of my children are anything like my own, they will be more likely to remember the inside jokes, the change of scenery, and the overall feeling of being together. Perhaps the most memorable moments from family vacations are cemented in the searches, the simplicity, and the surprises that surface when families are together in some place new.
~Think on These Things~
“Family is the most important thing in the world.” ~Princess Dianna