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Vacations make memories

It’s summer. School is out for the season and it is time to take a well-earned vacation.

But why is it that as soon as someone learns you plan to take or just returned from a vacation the first question he or she asks is “Where did you go?” Does a person really need to use the term “staycation” to describe taking a break from his or her normal activities when he or she doesn’t actually plan to go anywhere?

Merriam-Webster offers this simple definition of the word vacation. It says a vacation is “a period of time that a person spends away from home, school or business usually in order to relax or travel.” Or it could be the “number of days or hours per year for which an employer agrees to pay workers while they are not working.”

It’s pretty clear that the vacation time is spent away from work or school. Where it gets vague is with “usually in order to relax or travel.”

A person’s definition of how to relax is open to myriad interpretations. It could be time spent on a tropical beach in an exotic location, or hiking on verdant mountain trails. Others might find it relaxing to explore a new city, take a long drive across the country or sit at home on the couch and binge watch a series on Netflix. Sometimes people just need to take a vacation from work or school to catch up on tasks at home that there never seems to be enough time for. While that may not be a true vacation, not having to juggle multiple activities at the same time can indeed be relaxing. Getting a few extra hours of sleep and not having to consult a calendar or daily schedule would definitely qualify as relaxing. As would some pampering such as a massage. That could reduce the amount of stress in your life and help you relax.

So if reducing stress is a key component of relaxation, would you consider any stress-busting activity away from your normal routine a vacation?

I would and did. Armed with a sledgehammer, pry bar, paintbrush and various power tools, I reduced my stress levels significantly while transforming the kitchen in my house during my recent vacation.

Sounds like a lot of hard work. It was, but seeing the changes each day as the project progressed was invigorating — and it made me smile, something a vacation is definitely supposed to make you do.

Since my husband and I had so much fun renovating our bathroom last year, we have spent the past few months looking at other rooms in the house trying to figure out what to tackle next. Our kitchen was a top priority, but I honestly thought we would have to wait several years before beginning the project. Things just fell into place, including some time away from the office that I had to take. In case you have never done this, let me assure you that renovating a kitchen is a major ordeal — especially when we do it.

Just like the bathroom, we gutted the kitchen down to the studs. That meant everything had to be removed from the area down to the smallest spoon — and put somewhere else. There wasn’t a room in the house that wasn’t affected by this project. We spent hours taking things apart before putting in the new and improved look. By the end of each day we flopped down onto any soft surface with every muscle in our bodies hurting, while nursing cuts, scrapes and bruises. But we were smiling. True, this may have not been a typical vacation, and I didn’t get to do a lot of what most people would consider relaxing. Yet, like a trip to new place or amusement park, it was a wild ride and an experience I won’t soon forget. And that is what a vacation is all about: creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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