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All has gone so well, but now is the time of transition—the crossing over from vacation to the real world. This means that for the next twenty-four hours, a fog of sorts will engulf our realm. Bad things will stalk us. Mishaps will happen. But only for twenty-four hours.

And so it is as I foretold. The air feels thick. The mood is somber. Tears are shed. It’s like a funeral. The only thing missing is the corpse.

The kids amble slowly, traipsing back and forth in zombie-like saunters as they bring their things to the marshal—the one they call “Momma”—so that she can put them into the family suitcase. One by one, she takes from them their clothing and books and souvenirs and all that would remind them of the days where sleeping in was as certain as the sunrise and a swimming pool was as easily accessible as the ground beneath their feet.

While I watch, I wonder if there is an actual psychological term for this particular scenario. If so, I’m guessing it’s called Post Traumatic Vacation Disorder—or PTVD. Well, maybe not PTVD. That sounds a little more like a disease one might catch during Marti Gras in New Orleans. Either way, before me is the proof that the vacation has wound down to its conclusion, and it is a traumatic experience. Even for me. I rarely feel like crying, and yet, this is one of those times when I feel the tugging.

I just don’t want it to end. I love the time with my family. Right or wrong, I love opening my email and deleting everything indiscriminately. I love waking up at six o’clock in the morning, moving quietly through the house toward the coffee maker, preparing a full pot of medium roast, flipping on the computer, and then tapping away at the keyboard for as long as I want—or at least until the first of the children comes wandering through the kitchen and breaks my stride. But that’s okay. I love being able to actually greet them, and to do so with a casualness of pace because I’ve nowhere to go and nothing else to do than be their dad. I love a full day with my wife, Jennifer. I love carting them around in a minivan to this place and that place, all the while enjoying them as the unique and wonderful people God has made them to be.

But all of this is for another story.

Right now, jump ahead a few hours to the 5:05 AM alarm screaming its dirge-like tune the morning of our departure. The funeral service has not ended, but rather it continues, except now, all the mental faculties and physical coordination of its attendees have atrophied fully.

All the laundry has been washed and packed. Everyone is dressed. Final things are being orchestrated. Something tragic is sure to happen. And it does.

We leave for the airport in thirty-five minutes. As fate continues to shave minutes from the clock, Evelyn manages to tip and spill her entire bowl of cereal into her lap, screaming as it sops down into the seat cushions and forms a pool on the floor. Oh, and by the way, it isn’t just any type of cereal. It’s Lucky Charms, which means that the staining power of this multihued, marshmallow meal is set well beyond “stun.” The little girl will now need to strip down and change clothes while I run her soggy attire through the quickest cycle the washing machine offers and then wrap it in a plastic grocery sack in an attempt to keep everything else in the suitcase dry for the next four or five hours of travel.

All I can do is hope.

What happens next is more irksome than it is tragic. The kids are instructed to make one more pass though their rooms to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything. Both of the boys adamantly protest, insisting that nothing is missing from their packs. Jennifer looks under one of the beds and finds Harrison’s favorite deck of cards. Josh is already making his way out to the car when I ask if he’s done what we’ve asked. Once again, he insists it isn’t necessary, but then he sees my “You’re gonna hear me say ‘I told you so’ really soon” expression while turning toward his room and in response, he scoots past and begins a quick scan. Sure enough, he finds his favorite pair of shorts in the bottom drawer of the dresser beneath the TV. I say nothing. He keeps his eyes to the floor.

Feeling as though what was most likely the worst of things is behind us—the detonation of cereal—I rally the family to the van and we make our way to the airport. We deliver the rental van on time and in good condition. We make it to the ticket counter, through security, and to the gate unscathed.

The full twenty-four hours is well past its half-way point and not much has happened. Strange. But I’m not complaining, because here I sit in row 25, seat C, on Frontier flight 1668 to Detroit rejoicing that there isn’t a screaming infant nearby like there was last year. It is beginning to appear as the though our typical time of transition may very well be sputtering to an early end. I’m listening to the “Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mixes 1 and 2” and tapping on the computer, every now and then glancing at the countdown clock app on my phone which is currently displaying 338 days until next year’s vacation.

Man, that just seems so far away.

The feeling sets me back, but only for a moment, because the thought that a lot of good things—wonderful things—could happen between now and day 338. The same thought causes me to close my eyes and imagine what those things will be. I know one thing for sure. I will continue to work harder at concerning myself less with my vocation and more with my family. Not that I intend to shaft my duties. It’s not in me to do that, but each year I return from vacation, I get a little better at prioritizing my tasks in an attempt to brush aside the guilt of failing to get everything done or solving every person’s problem. I intend to continue getting better at keeping a more manageable pace that includes, rather than excludes, my family.

For example, I know for a fact that there will be a whole bunch of meetings this year that I just won’t be attending. I’ll also be devoting more time to doing things that help to keep my family healthy, as well as doing more of the extra-curricular things that help to keep my spirit energized and engaged. One of those things is writing about whiskey. And there are always new whiskies to playfully review. Some good. Some downright awful. Some, meh. But whatever the result, the experience is always a pleasure when I get to tell the story.

As a side note, I have an untested sample of the Redbreast 12-year-old edition waiting for me at home. I plan to give it a whirl when I get home a little later today. Although, from what I’ve heard from a trustworthy friend, I shouldn’t expect much. Perhaps I should wait until the last few minutes of the twenty-four hour time frame in order to let the whiskey be the last of the transition’s calamities.

We’ll see. In fact, I think I’ll stop right here, and when I get home, I’ll pick this up again and share the day’s end.


I’m back. Good news. The dram was better than I expected. As a matter of fact, it was quite good.

In the nose, there are distinct breezes of honey, nutmeg, tangerines, and almonds. A sip reveals equally distinct streams of vanilla and sun-dried apricots barely peppered with cinnamon. The medium finish is a combination of both the nose and the palate.

This Irish whiskey is very full, and I’m quite pleased it was the one holding the checkered flag at the day’s finish line. It sure beats what fate had in store for our minivan’s tire only a few hours before. $309.37 later…