Last year our family's July ski holiday was a selfish, financially crippling indulgence. This year it's a heroic economy saving rescue mission.
We've been down here in Queenstown for the last week having an amazing time. We're not doing it for us. We are doing it for the good of our fine nation.
Patriotically eating out every night. Always ordering dessert for the good of the country. It's our little stimulus package.
Last Wednesday night I made a real difference. Judging by my drained credit card me and a local mate pumped a lot into the local economy. Apparently we were being kind to everyone we met.
That said, the trip hasn't been completely honourable. Even with great motives and a beautiful location, holiday's can go sour.
Especially if there's a grumpy dad like me involved. I'd like to share the ways I ruined our heroic holiday. Three learnings that might help vacationers who are bankrupting themselves for the good of the nation.
You Can't Enforce Appreciation
Nothing annoys us dads more than our beloved kids not appreciating what we have provided for them. Say for example you always wanted to go skiing as a child but your parents couldn't afford it.
So you grow up vowing to give your kids the things you didn't have. You bust a gut to provide these experiences for your children.
Then what do they do? They don't enjoy themselves enough. They should be loudly appreciating the opportunities you have given them every other second.
You have every right as a dad to ruin the holiday for everyone if this doesn't happen. I like to start the conversation by aggressively asking "What's wrong with everyone today?" then move on to "we are up a mountain skiing is that not entertaining enough for you?"
Then finally "you spoilt little brats don't know how good you have it. I would have done anything to have the opportunities you have."
I delivered all these lines up Coronet Peak only to find the reason my son wasn't smiling and thanking me was because his snowboard boots were cutting his feet open.
When we got them off there was blood everywhere. He wasn't being ungrateful at all. He was in horrific pain. He didn't want to say anything because he didn't want to ruin the day for his dad.
Didn't want us all to leave the mountain for him. Bless. The holiday learning here is clear. Often your kids aren't being ungrateful brats. If someone isn't grinning from ear to ear maybe they're a spoilt brat, maybe they are bleeding to death from the foot, either way, you can't enforce appreciation.
Kids hate scenery
Scenery is really boring until you hit your 30s. No one knows why. It's like Dire Straits. They suck for years then one day you wake up liking them. Kids don't care about rivers, lakes and mountains.
You can't berate your children into giving a crap about landscapes. Here's an example from my family last week.
"How beautiful is that field boys?" "What dad?" "'Don't worry you missed it, I don't know why I bother taking you kids to these amazing places if you won't even look out the window."
"Sorry Dad can, you give us more warning next time?" "No!" Aggressively enforced scenery appreciation ruins holidays.
A holiday isn't a rolling education facility
Kids aren't in the mood to learn on a school holiday. It's their downtime from education.
That's why punishing them with the audiobook A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson read by Bryson himself is a bad idea.
No one under 20 can handle that man's smug delivery. A 10-year-old doesn't need to know that much detail about ye olde scientists. It's a great book, I've read it several times.
But kids hate it. Rightfully so. It's really boring. If you are trying to entertain kids audibly on a road trip go anti-educational every-time. Harry Potter, Diary of Wimpy Kid, Scythe. Holidays are no time for intellectuals like Bill Bryson, Brian Cox or Neil Degrasse Tyson.
Holidaying in this beautiful country of ours in 2020 is not only a treat but a heroic act.
Risking missing mortgage payments to buy local is the right thing to do. You are helping Aotearoa get back up on her feet.
But it can all go south if there's a grumpy dad involved. Don't make the mistakes I've made. Don't expect appreciation, don't expect your kids to look at anything you find interesting and don't attempt any kind of education.
Follow these three simple rules and enjoy a trouble-free economy saving holiday.