02/09/2015 12:48 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Yet Another Reason to Stay in the Shade on Vacation

Thegoodly via Getty Images

For the second time in 10 months, I vacationed to a hot, sunny, gorgeous place only to return to the dead of winter, pasty pale. My, how times have changed. For an Italian, olive-skinned gal, this is something new and unwelcomed. Rewind two years ago and I was a tanning aficionado. Sure, I always lathered on sunscreen, but acquiring a deep, luxurious tan was always at the forefront of my travel plans. To me, golden, sun-kissed skin symbolized relaxation, luxury and peacefulness.


On a recent trip to St. Thomas (USVI) something peculiar 'clicked.' While wading in the baby pool with my infant son, Jack, pre-baby Angie's voice kept trying to persuade me to tether Jack's floatie to the shaded edge and move myself into the scorching sun. I actually tried to stretch back out of the shadows to feel the rays on my face. But, oddly, the further I moved away from my baby, the less appealing the sun became. I scurried back over to his side and continued swooshing him back and forth through the shaded water as he squealed with glee. We repeated this activity for most of the day, every day.


On our final morning away, my wonderful husband offered to stay with our son in the kiddie area so I could pop down to the beach and tan.


I quickly scurried off to get ready -- bikini, sun-screen and Kindle. But as I got ready to roll out, I heard my son's little giggle and all of a sudden the thought of tanning lost its allure.


Oddly, ending a tropical vacation without a tan now means something entirely new to me: it symbolizes quality time, peacefulness, laughter and memories. When it comes down to it, you can buy 'tan in a can' or get a spray tan any time, but you can't buy time with your family.


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