I returned from vacay and tried to turn off the plugin, and now that it is off, the categories won't appear. I can go into theme settings and make the products appear but nothing is making the categories come back. Not even adding new ones
I don't see how this might be related to the vacation plugin since the plugin makes no changes while it is not activated or configured.
Please deactivate the plugin and see if the issue is persisting?
Given the lack of activity, I'm going to close this issue for now. If you have any further questions, feel free to create a new one.