The Price of Tea in China: Family barely survives vacations, can't risk weekend together at BSU

This summer I saw a movie (twice) that sums up everything I know about family life:

"Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten, unless we are in Central Park and Dad has decided to boldly venture into the Great Big Apple Beyond and neglect to tell Mom where he is, causing her to chase him into Kingdom Come and leave your little sister and yourself on a park bench next to who could very well be the scariest, smelliest man on the planet."

Yes sir, nothing tests the loving bonds of a family like a crisis or a vacation. My family often chooses to save time and combine the two.

My dad hates leaving home. Don't ask me why because, for your own personal vacation-planning information, the only thing Hastings, Mich., is known for is the large quantity of lone shoes that litter the streets.

Hastings was, so they say, voted one of the best 100 small towns in America, but I suspect that outrageous claim to be the futile attempt of Hastings to compete with Battle Creek, which has Kellogg's Cereal City, USA, and fewer shoes in the road.

My mom, on the other hand, lives for the touristy things - the guided tours, the long lines, and the exciting visits to places that feature digital surround sound showings of documentaries called things like "Foreign Oppression and You" and "The Wonderful World of Dirt." (These may be "The Wonderful World of Foreign Oppression" and "Dirt and You." It just goes to show how much I pay attention.)

Another urgent must-know fact about my mom is that she takes pictures. And I don't mean just a quick snapshot beside the sign that says "Welcome to Missouri, the Show-Me State." Oh, no. She will take pictures of the entire state of Missouri that can be laid on the floor and pasted to the walls to create a panoramic effect that might make one think that he or she was actually in Missouri if every shot did not feature my father, sister, and self casting exasperated glares in her general direction.

My dad, while despising the posing and smiling, loves to videotape. If anyone is interested, somewhere at my house in Hastings, Mich., we have several tapes of our vacation in '91 that could be subtitled "The Ceilings and Cloud Formations of Walt Disney World." First, however, you'll have to sit through about six birthday parties, two family Christmas' and a rather amusing bit in which a baby mouse crawls up my five-year-old arm and jumps into my mouth.

Dad has fun with his camera.

At any rate, given the conflicting personalities of my parents, it did not usually help that my sister and I were on a relentless quest to become the most obnoxious, complaining children ever. If you were to ask my parents, I'm sure they would tell you that we succeeded with the most fluorescent of flying colors.

You'd think that we would be more conducive to vacationing now that my sister and I are older, but they are not coming for Family Weekend because it was too crowded last year. I am taking invitations to be adopted into someone's family for a day.

Pictures and videotaping are optional. And so is the baby mouse.

Write to Aleshia at text you want linked


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