Except for the heat, I love summer. It’s that relaxing time of year when things take a break – at least for a little while. Kids are out of school, the pools are open and families get to spend more time together without the extra after-school activities. It is also when most of us take a vacation. Whether it is a trip to a special resort, an overseas excursion, a trip to the beach or simply a visit to Grandma’s house, a lot of planning goes into leaving home no matter for how long it may be.
My three daughters and I started looking for a beach house last fall. It is unbelievable how fast they go. We needed room for eight adults and six children, with only two weeks that worked with everyone’s schedule. We wanted a house that was ocean front with king-sized beds, bunk beds, lots of bathrooms, well-appointed and a pool, all at a reasonable price – not too picky, are we? We searched through lots of beaches and houses. There was a lot of back and forth before a decision was made. Once the place was secured, we just waited for the months to pass and our week to begin.
Every year, we take our family to a resort in the mountains, and every other year, we take everyone to Disney World. The difference in these family trips and the beach trip is that in the mountains we each have our own cabin and at our Disney World resort, each family has its own room. In both cases, we all do our own thing only all coming together at dinner. Were we going to survive a week of so much closeness?
In a word, yes! Any time I can spend with my precious grands is wonderful – having all of them under one roof for a week is pure heaven. It was great watching our girls and their families interact and love being together. Our days were spent jumping waves, building sand castles, walking the beach and searching for shark’s teeth – our youngest son-in-law showed the kids what to look for and was the champion of finding them. Our proficient water sport son-in-law patiently taught our nine-year-old granddaughter how to surf – she is a natural. A couple of nights, we went on a sand crab hunt. Our other son-in-law bought the kids flashlights and nets to make spotting and catching them easier. After they had deposited a number of them in a small pail, it was time to set them free. There were gales of laughter as we jumped out of the way to avoid them scurrying over our toes.
When we took a break from the sun and sand, it was the time I really got to see and hear all about my adorable loves. Our eldest granddaughter got to tell me all about her two weeks at camp, baked us a delicious pie, learned a new card game and proceeded to beat me at it, adopted a turtle (in name only) from the rescue and rehab center, entertained her brothers and cousins, and told me numerous things I might not have known if it hadn’t been for having this uninterrupted time together. Our eldest grandson regaled me with tales of the sports camps he had been to, his friends, everything Star Wars and his amazing building talent with Legos. He also gifted me with some finds from the beach which I will treasure. Our four-year-old granddaughter loved to snuggle and ask lots of questions which usually ended up in a fit of laughter. She is a pro with Legos, loves all the My Little Ponies and draws and colors beautifully. She also helped me bake cookies – my little sous chef. The youngest boys were busy racing cars, putting tracks together, playing hard and sleeping well. Our youngest granddaughter was busy taking her first steps and gaining more confidence in that endeavor every day. She loved trying to keep up with her cousins, and they were very good with her.
Would I have learned and experienced all of this at some other time? Maybe; but being there for the “firsts” – the spontaneous interaction, the day-to-day new experiences – will always be cherished memories. The week culminated in a celebration of my birthday. I was overly spoiled, but the greatest gift of all was the week spent with my family. And my birthday wish? Why, hoping this becomes an annual event, of course!