The Someday Vacation
by Alice Gubler Sabin
Illustration of two granddaughters, one with a teddy bear in one arm, hugging their grandmother

EDITOR'S NOTE: "The Someday Vacation" was originally published in The Relief Society Magazine August, 1964, vol. 51, no. 8, pp. 588-591, 1964.

Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library has made digital scans of Relief Society Magazine available online as part of the Relief Society Magazine Digital Project. This article is online there in the original format at:

The article is reprinted here with permission.

"Ellie, you aren't eating your supper." Mother looked at me in concern. I choked. "Really mother, I just can't seem to swallow tonight."

Nancy eyed the food before her. "Me, too. How come your stomach gets all tied up in knots when you're excited?"

"That's 'cause you're thinking too much, like me." Tom reached for his fourth muffin. "When I shut my eyes, I can just see the fish splashing and the sun shining on the water. I almost can't eat either, just thinking about it."

"Now look here." Daddy put down his fork. "We can't take a pack of starved coyotes along with us. You young ones better relax and eat your supper. You'll need energy to help finish packing. We're going to get an early start in the morning."

"Don't urge them to eat," Grandma said. "There were times when I was a child that I'd get too excited to eat. Just the thoughts of going places did it to me."

We looked gratefully at Grandma. She always understood.

We had plenty of energy to help finish loading. Daddy didn't need to worry. After all, ever since I could remember, we had been going to go to Yellowstone someday. It was going to be someday when Daddy had enough vacation time coming to make the trip worthwhile; and someday when there weren't too many bills to pay, and someday when Daddy and Mother didn't have special meetings to interfere, and a hundred and one other reasons. Well, believe it or not, that someday had actually arrived. It was no longer a dream but a reality.

Daddy had rented the biggest camper he could get. It had two bedrooms, if you can call them rooms, one for Grandma, and one for Daddy and Mother. It had a gas refrigerator and stove and running water and—well just about all of the comforts of home. Daddy said he just loved to rough it. Nancy and Tom and I had sleeping bags. We wanted to sleep under the stars. Daddy put in a tent, "just in case."

I washed the supper dishes and Grandma wiped. "You're excited, too, aren't you. Grandma?" I grinned. "You only nibbled instead of eating."

She winked at me. "Tom and your daddy don't need to think they're the only fishermen in the family. I reckon we women folks might even show them up a bit." The look on her face gave me a merry feeling.

One thing troubled me about fishing. That was worms. Tom had a bait can full of them. I couldn't tell Grandma I'd never touched a worm. I'd have to figure out some natural way to get someone else to bait my hook.

I don't believe Mother cared much for worms, either. She was packing embroidery work and gathering up some magazines to read. As she reached for her Relief Society Magazine, an unopened letter fell to the floor. She picked it up and looked at the postmark. The letter was two weeks old. Quickly she tore it open. For a minute I thought she was going to faint. She dropped into a chair and sat staring at the paper. It was an important letter, for sure.

Mother straightened. "Who put this inside my magazine?" She held out the letter like it was a document from the President of the United States. We all looked at each other. The air was very tense. "Ellie? Tom? Nancy?" As she looked at each of us, we mutely shook our heads.

DADDY cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, dear. I am the guilty one. I picked up the mail one day when I was on an errand. I was afraid of misplacing your letter, so I slipped it inside the magazine you had left in the car. I must have forgotten it."

Whee! That let us three off the hook.

"Is there any damage done?" Daddy asked.

"No. None at all." Mother looked like she was going to cry. "We'll just have to postpone our vacation a couple of days, that's all."

Two days! I wanted to howl. Tom and Nancy let out a wail.

Grandma spoke up. "Did somebody die, Janet?"

Mother smiled weakly. "No, nothing like that. I have an important meeting day after tomorrow, that's all."

Well! It must be a Relief Society meeting! All of us knew from previous experience that when Mother had a Relief Society meeting to attend, nothing could turn her aside.

Grandma wasn't one to be put off so easily. "What is it, Janet? Are you the main speaker at the meeting?"

"It is a special meeting for the Relief Society presidencies in the stake." Mother had herself under control. Calmly she turned to Daddy. "Jim, you've been wishing you could get away from the office long enough to fix the pasture fence and spray the wild parsnips. This will be a perfect time to do it." Turning to Nancy and me, she smiled. "Do you girls remember the cute pink curtains we saw down town the other day? How would you like to get them tomorrow? I'll help you pretty up your room." We had wanted the curtains very much, but right now they didn't seem important.

"JANET." Daddy looked like a little boy as he approached mother. "Is this meeting so important that we have to change the family plans?"

"All Church meetings are important, or they wouldn't be called." Her voice was very even.

"Gee, Dad, that's a tough break for you." Tom plunged his hands deep into his pockets. "To think of that camper going to waste for two whole days in our backyard." His voice quavered.

"We have to learn to put first things first, Son. Now come on, all of you. Let's have family prayer and you can scamper off to bed. Sounds as if we've things to do tomorrow."

We all kneeled down together and Daddy asked Grandma to pray.

Grandma's prayers always sounded pretty direct. I thought I knew exactly what she had in mind when she said, "Help us all to see things in their true order of importance."

DADDY and mother usually discussed things after we had gone to bed. Most of the, time we went right off to sleep, but tonight we turned out our light and forgot to close our door. By being really quiet we could hear almost everything they had to say in the living room.

Daddy said, "But, Janet, if we postpone our vacation a couple of days we won't have time to go to Yellowstone. My vacation starts tomorrow."

Mother sounded too cheerful. She said, "Then wo can pick a place closer to home. You'll get something accomplished around here, and we will save on expenses."

"Oh, Ellie," Nancy sobbed. "Did you hear that? Not go to Yellowstone after we have waited all our whole lives!"

I tried to comfort her. "Nancy, I think Daddy is trying to help Mother figure out some right way so we can go."

"But, Ellie, Daddy and Mother always agree on everything. They always do everything they're asked to do."

"That's why everybody likes them." I said. "I guess they're the best people in the whole world besides Grandma. Nancy, let's go to Grandma's room and talk to her."

We tiptoed down the dark hall.

Mother was saying, "Too many people use their families for an excuse for not taking Church assignments. I've always believed that when we do our duty in the Church our families are blessed, and we can enjoy them that much more."

Daddy said, "You are right. The two are inseparable, but still there are times when choices must be made."

"Sakes alive," Grandma whispered. We almost bumped into her sitting in her doorway. "Shhh!" she gathered us to her. "Seems to me we've some figuring to do." We snuggled against her.

"Grandma, what are we going to do?" Nancy sobbed.

"Hush, child. I'm thinking. Your mother wants to go to Yellowstone as much as any of us. She has so much loyalty that she doesn't know what to do with it all."

"I wish she hadn't found that letter, then she would have been happy until we got back."

"Yeah. Remember the time she forgot a meeting and the whole family went swimming. It was a blast!" Tom whispered.

"Tom! Where did you come from?" I asked.

"I wasn't sleepy so I came to Grandma's room. It would take a written excuse from the King of England to keep mother from that meeting."

"Not from the King, from the bishop," I said.

"Ellie, that's it! You young ones scamper off to bed so we'll be ready to leave in the morning." Grandma fairly pushed us toward our rooms.

Through the partition wall between our bed and Grandma's reading table, we could hear her dial her phone. We couldn't hear what she said. Minutes later there was a knock on the front door and we heard Daddy say, "Come in, Bishop, what a pleasant surprise to see you tonight."

Nancy and I hurried out into the hall. Grandma and Tom were there ahead of us peering through the bannister into the living room.

"Brother Sorenson," the bishop boomed, "the camper in your yard reminded me that you are going fishing. I have some fancy lures I thought you might like to try." He put a little box on the table.

"That's mighty thoughtful of you. Bishop," Daddy said. "I guess we won't be leaving for a couple of days."

"Couple of days!" There was surprise in the bishop's voice. "Understood you were going in the morning."

"There's a Relief Society meeting Wednesday," Mother said.

"Yes, I know. Haven't you a couple of counselors. Sister Sorenson?"

Mother hesitated. "Why, yes. But this is a presidents' meeting."

"So it is. But, remember, there are three people in the presidency. Your counselors will be glad to go alone this time for this planning meeting. We must not make service in the Church a burdensome thing. When it is done right, it is very joyous. All our organizations are patterned after a perfect plan. Our families are part of this plan. It is built around them. Now, go with your family and have a happy vacation."

"Thank you so much. Bishop. I will call Sister Hansen tonight." There was the happiness of a burden lifted, in Mother's voice.

"My blessings go with you. We love you both for your faithfulness. Goodnight." With a handshake, the bishop was gone.

We were hugging each other in the dark.

There was a moment's silence, then Mother said softly, "Isn't it strange that he should come by tonight!"

"Strange and wonderful," Daddy said.

Mother sat down at the telephone and Daddy started for the hall. Swift as rabbits we fled for our rooms and into our beds. Daddy turned the hall hghts on and came whooping up the stairs with a bound that shook the rafters.

"Look out Yellowstone, here we come!"

Bursting into our room, he gave us each a resounding goodnight kiss, and playfully tucked us in, including Grandma.