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How Much Does it Take to Plan a Vacation? Two (Jewish Moms) and Three (Months).

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This is my mom, on the left, and Mr. B’s mom, on the right. They are depicted here,  hunting for mushrooms.

This weekend, though, they were hunting for bargains.

Because, you see, my parents, Mr. B’s mom, and my aunt and a couple others are going on a cruise together in May. ( Mercifully, Mr. B and I can sense chaos from a mile away, and we opted out of this Fabulous Vacation Opportunity. )  But if you have never seen two Russian Jewish women try to plan a vacation together without spending any money whatsoever, you are missing out on the finer parts of life.  It’s a little like watching good actors act, good ballerinas ballerine, or fine Belgian chocolate being chocolated.

The process begins as a glimmer in my mom’s eye.  “Let’s go on a vacation,” she tells my dad.  My dad becomes extremely happy at this juncture.  “But we have to stay at the hotel that charges the least possible money and pick the cruise that will save us more than it will cost us, because to spend more would be anti-Semitic.” These parameters have resulted in interesting family vacations, including once when we stayed in a hotel in Paris that had a beautiful view of Paris’s homeless population due to the fact that it was conveniently adjacent to a soup kitchen.  We didn’t need an alarm because the inebriated homeless queueing up in the morning would do it for us every time.

Once my mom picks her parameters, she starts her Quest Online for Cheap Cruises.  To call it a search would be like calling War and Peace a novel.  Once Mr. B’s mom decided that she was also going, they got together, sacrificed a sheep, and looked in its entrails to divine the best, cheapest cruise at the best, cheapest time, and make sure NO OTHER WEBSITE possibly had a steeper discount.   During one weekend, Mr. B and I observed them together at two computers, searching, simultaneously, doubting themselves, double-checking, calling cruise-lines and airlines, huddling together pre-play, double-checking again, almost ordering the cruise then backing up, checking another cruise, and backing out again.  It was like watching Kasparov versus Deep Blue.  Exhilarating but agonizing.  Mr. B and I watched them for only two of the five hours they did this, at which point we decided to kill each other a la Masada to ease the pain.  Booking the actual cruise took three weeks of this.

My mom and Mr. B's mom have special ritual outfits that they wear when they hunt for deals.

However, the hunt is not over because their cruise leaves from Puerto Rico and they need a hotel room the night before the ship leaves, which means that they will be going through another round of bargain-hunting to find the best possible hotel room.  This weekend, they only searched for three hours, so I fully expect next weekend, when my parents come to Philadelphia, to be a Marathon Meeting of the Minds.  Which means you will probably see Mr. B and myself drawing up lots again.  Or begging them to let us pay for the hotel room. Or yelling at them, “Aren’t Jews supposed to be the People of the Book?? As in BOOK YOUR HOTEL ROOM ALREADY.”

Our moms are the best.

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  1. This is hilarious. 2 years ago my family decided to go on a cruise, so my husband had the absolute pleasure of observing my parents trying to book a vacation. It included booking us a room for 55 and over and listing my Dad in the room with me, and my hub in the room with my mother, 4 months of calling every agency and looking at every website ever created, and so on. Once that was done, we had to have multiple family meetings in order to conceive a plan on how to get vodka and cognac onto the ship in wine bottles (since wine is the only allowed outside alcohol). Not to mention booking the excursions with the locals, which drove my hub absolutely insane as he thought we would surely get murdered in Belize by the local taxi driver that my mom found on some weird foreign website.

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