Who put greeting card writers in charge of decorating vacation homes? | Feature Story

While enjoying time away from home, the vacationer may experience brief moments of spatial disorientation when rising from peaceful slumber. Those moments are great because they allow one to relive a certain “I don’t have to go to work today” euphoria.

It’s getting harder to experience that sweet little reminder. Decorators of vacation homes have begun scattering cute little words and phrases all around so that when the eyes open, your location is spelled out.

“Beach” might be the most displayed word in coastal vacation spots these days. Just in case you might have fallen under the misapprehension that you’re someplace else.

I have not researched it, but I’m guessing that “Lake” has become a popular word to hang at properties bordering lakes. “River” likewise.

I’m at one of my favorite coastal locations, Florida’s Anna Maria Island. It’s slightly larger than quaint but is small enough to share a warm connection with locals. Chain restaurants are not allowed on the island — a rule that actually contributes as much as anything else to Anna Maria’s identity as a unique and wonderful place.

We were introduced to Anna Maria by some dear friends who read my column in the Sarasota and Bradenton newspapers. Married 65 years, John and Dot Ann passed away about three months apart in 2012. They lived most of their lives in nearby Bradenton and took us to Anna Maria during a visit in 2007.

During the first few vacation trips to the island, I would also spend time with John and Dot Ann. Each year when I come back, I still see them everywhere. The restaurants where we ate. The hardware store where John and I shopped for light bulbs. The beach where we sat under an umbrella discussing the treasures of life.

Everyone in my extended family has adopted Anna Maria as a home away from home. One of my sisters tries to rent the same house every time she comes with her family. Our family has never stayed in the same house twice. We like to experience new quarters each time, and we’ve never been disappointed.

I’m here this week with my mother and brother. We’re in one of the great little ranch houses that are part of the oldest neighborhoods on the island. I have no complaints about the house, just the decorative words.

I don’t need cute words and phrases like “The ocean is calling your name” or “I need some vitamin sea” to remind me that I’m on vacation. So on the second day, I gathered them all up and stuck them in a remote corner of the house.

Several days later, I still know exactly where I am and why I’m here.

Using words to decorate is not unique to vacation spots. I’ve been in homes where the word “Kitchen” was displayed in a room where a stove, refrigerator, sink and food also just happened to be.

Words on walls is a decorating trend that will soon be erased, I feel certain.

Still, I might have to bend to the trend. My wife has been wanting something on the wall of our home’s utility room for hanging keys. The word “Keys” with little hooks, perhaps. “Home” is a possibility.

I’ve got it: “No Beach Here!”

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