Many young families are financially challenged. Mine was no exception. I look back on those years with fondness as they contain some of my most precious memories.
When you are financially challenged (poor), you get very creative. While other families are going off on expensive vacations and wonderful weekend trips, we were firing up the charcoal at the local park or gathering the necessary gear (a box) for a frog hunting expedition. Our kids loved the outings but we wanted to be able to give them a Disney experience.
We set our goal. We scrimped and saved until finally we had enough.
After loading up our Isuzu, we headed south. Staying on Disney or even close by was out of the question. Instead, we stayed at a Motel 6 about thirty minutes away. As our budget was very tight, we realized we’d only be able to eat one meal a day in Disney. So, I packed a cooler full of prepared foods. All we needed was a microwave and dinner would be served.
Being from the south, I grew up believing that Pop-Tarts were okay but sausage was better. I pulled out my handy-dandy electric fry pan (You read that right – I carried my electric fry pan with me on vacation as I wasn’t sure the motel room would have a microwave – we are talking Motel 6, twenty years ago) and started cooking the sausage. It never occurred to me that this might not be the best idea… I’m sure you can imagine our panic as the smoke detector started blasting and there we were desperately trying to disable it – so that the sprinkler system didn’t activate! At this point, I must admit my Ohio born husband wasn’t feeling the love for my backwoods ways…
We spent two wonderful days at Disney. On our way home, we stopped at a rest area – had a picnic and tossed a ball around. During the last leg of our journey home, I asked our boys what their favorite part of the trip had been. I was sure they’d choose Space Mountain or maybe the dinosaurs from Epcot. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They unanimously agreed that the rest area picnic was their favorite part.
I was floored.
My husband muttered, “After spending all that money, all we needed to do was drive to a rest area and have a picnic?”
The moral of this story – It doesn’t cost a lot to make kids happy – they just want your time and attention… And it’s a really good idea to avoid frying sausage in a motel room. In fact, make sure to leave your electric fry pan at home.