Once again it is summer time. As a matter of fact, it begins this year on June 21, as it usually does. This date has been recognized for thousands of years as the “summer solstice,” which means that sun is at its greatest intensity, standing still and creating the longest daylight of the year. The summer solstice has been celebrated by many cultures and is said to indicate a time for the celebration of life and a regeneration of our dreams.
In America, summer time has been celebrated with picnics, swimming pools, baseball, summer camps, amusement parks, and best of all family vacations. But wait! We don’t do vacations anymore do we? As a matter of fact, I think we are suffering from vacation deprivation. The amount of time of American workers take off is now the lowest in forty years. We are rapidly devaluing vacation days. For example, in the year 2000 workers took an average of 20.3 days a year off and by 2013 it was down to sixteen days. We are taking only 77 percent of paid time off. Now, I realize that not everyone gets paid time off. For those working on the bottom of the pay scale, only 49 percent get any paid time off.
What’s wrong with this picture? We need some time off! Research indicates that workers who use more vacation days have better performance reviews. Also, we are lagging behind other modern nations. Of the twenty richest nations, Austria leads with the highest number of required vacation days at thirty-eight. The United States is—you guessed it—in last place with zero number of required vacation days. I think we need to go on vacation and visit those other countries!
The real point of all of this is we need to spend more time with our family and friends. We too need to celebrate life and regenerate ourselves. It is no secret that our lives are too stressful and that stress underlies many of the problems for which people seek counseling. Are we becoming “workaholics” along with our many other problems? Let’s see if we can take a vacation without taking our iPad, cell phones, laptops, and a stack of work documents. As I kid I thought summer was the best time and I think it is time to remember there might still be a kid in all of us.
For thousands of people the highlight of this summer will be the International Convention for Alcoholics Anonymous, July 2–5, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. AA will be celebrating its eightieth anniversary. At least fifty thousand people are expected for the celebration and the theme will be “80 Years—Happy, Joyous, and Free.” Congratulations to Alcoholics Anonymous and all of its members. Thank you for the gift of sobriety and recovery for thousands of people, and especially for families.
I wish you all a good summer. Let’s all take a vacation!