My family has the best tradition in the whole wide world EVER.
If you know me, I’m sure I’ve told you about the beach house. The annual reunion began when I was a fat-bellied toddler. My mother and her three sisters were knee-deep in baby making and caring for children. With such busy schedules, they arranged to rent a beach house for a week so all could gather in one place.
The tradition stuck. We’ve gathered at the beach house every summer for over 25 years.
My mom and her sisters spawned 11 of us cousins. I consider the beach house tradition as one of the best things they ever did for us — we’re all incredibly close and enjoy loyal friendships.
Now, every year when the weather turns to more warm days than cold, I start dreaming about being at the beach house. Literally dreaming. In fact, I had one last night.
(Sure, there wasn’t really a beach per se and we were all working to help some bees migrate properly [oh, and I knew how to fly] but I intuitively knew it was the beach house so it counts.)
My aunts and cousins were all in this dream. Including my aunt who is no longer with us. A few years ago, we lost her to cancer. Even though it was just a coo-coo dream, it was so nice to see her. As I write this, my nose is tingling and my eyes are welling up. I miss her.
Since her passing, we’ve all realized how much work she did to keep the beach house going. Every year, she arranged the deposit and kept the owners at bay — they always suspected that we were packing the place beyond its capacity. Of course, they were right. At the beach house, the floor space of every bedroom is covered with blow-up mattresses and sleeping bags. I think we’ve all shared a bed at one point.
Our family has grown to include spouses, second cousins, and too many complicated schedules…but we won’t let the tradition die.
This year, we’ll have two new babies on the beach — three, if you count the one that will be chillin’ in my cousin’s belly. And we’re going to rent two beach houses to accommodate our rowdy crowd (I’m hunting for those houses after I finish this blog).
Holy CRAP, I can’t wait.
The first few days are always a delightful and action-packed family party. It seems like a new person walks in the door every hour. As soon as the door opens, we all get up and yell a greeting (because you’ll never be heard at the beach house if you don’t yell). Then we start the rounds of hugging.
We stay up late and wake up early. I’m always too excited to sleep much during the first weekend. Once my eyes pop open, I hop out of bed (usually leaving Lou behind) so I can rush to the kitchen in my PJ’s. I love to discover who else is up. As we sip coffee, chow on massive Costco muffins, and wait for the fog to clear from the beach, great conversations happen.
Honestly, I don’t even like to shower at the beach house because I don’t want to miss a moment.
Speaking of moments, here are a few that come to mind today:
At the first beach house we used to climb up to the ledge above the window and jump off into a pile of bean bags. And then we always got in trouble.
One summer, my mom read The Grouchy Ladybug to me every night. I still enjoy this book more than the The Hungry Caterpillar.
That same summer, Nick went poo-poo in the potty and his sister said, “Is that a mountain or a poo?!?” I still remember what the poo looked like. Yes, it was huge.
I totally idolized my older cousin RaeLee because she wore a bikini. Man, she was cool!
One time, my three older brothers and cousin Ryan ate all the gummy bears. Then the younger cousins cried.
Jumping waves with Aunt Boo…I remember thinking she was just a total blast to hang with.
Jumping waves with toddler Amber. She stared up at me with a huge grin and her enormous blue eyes. I can still see that cute face!
When toddler Amber stole Uncle Jim’s beer. And drank it.
The three little girls used to follow me around like ducklings…I remember being annoyed by it at the time. Now I’m flattered that they once looked up to me.
One morning, Nick convinced the three little girls to stand in silence and watch me sleep until I woke up. This was my punishment for being the last one out of bed.
Carl used to always kill the hot water after he came back from a swim because it took him 30 minutes to thaw his scrawny bones under the outdoor shower.
One summer, Nick and Ian would scream, “cock-a-doodle-doo!” whenever a big wave was on its way (the movie Hook had just come out).
Uncle John chased down some dude who tried to steal our wetsuits. We thought he was so tough.
There was an incident when Alan dissected a sea slug and found its teeth. God, that was gross.
There was a summer when I tragically got sun poisoning so Nick, Ian, Kirsten, Amber and Lara put on a fashion show to keep me entertained.
Once, Nick and I peed in the water. But we weren’t all the way in the water yet…we were just in the surf and let the pee come out of our swimming suits. This was his idea. He went first. Then I went. He was so disgusted, he screamed and ran into the water. Then he refused to talk to me for five minutes.
Lara’s famous quote, “Gummy bears…nice.”
The time Nick almost drowned but Jay saved him.
The time I almost drowned but Nick saved me.
On a boring afternoon, Nick and I convinced all younger cousins to join us and scream, “Oodelally, oodelally, golly what a day!” over and over again at the tops of our lungs. We were trying to annoy Uncle Dave. He calmly read his book the entire time.
Ian proposed to Carly at the beach house and it was a really great moment. It was also when I realized Rebekah was pregnant because she refused a glass of champagne.
There was a very bizarre incident in which Aunt Judy was a total badass and tried to save a guy’s life. He died. But he was also a pervert. And then Kirsten said one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard her say (cartoon to come later).
The nake-y dance!
Aunt Linny…every moment with her.