beach with famI am enjoying some time away on my yearly ‘week at the beach’ vacation with my family and for a few brief moments i have snuck away to a coffee shop with free wifi;)

The other day walking while on the beach with my husband, I realized that time stops at the beach, or at least slows down…families sit together, crowded onto the patch of sand that we have staked out for our selves in the midst of a sea of bodies… ensconced among chairs, towels, a cooler full of food, because we’re always hungrier at the beach. There must be something about the water and waves, the sand, and the sun make us eat, and often eat junk! Slathered with lotion, we build castles, ride the waves, play games and read… yes, now that our children are grown, I enjoy one of my favorite luxuries…reading on the beach.

There is a whole category of books called “beach reading” those novels that draw me in, invite me to escape to humdrum of my day, or the tension of my life, and live in another world for a brief season, stories that remind me of the parts deep within that remain unawakened, or have been neglected and fallen asleep since last summer’s respite on the sand…these books speak to my soul and remind me to rest and wander through the dusty parts of my soul. Those parts that lay dormant under the workload and the tyranny of the urgent, parts that begin to thaw out and require attention in the slow sun drenched hours at the beach. As the tide relentlessly returns to the shore, unearthing the hidden contents of the sea, so too these buried parts will no longer remain silent.

Another category of beach reads are spy novels and thrillers that I have to tear myself away from, as we head out to dinner or engage in one of the tradition nightly escapades that however silly, have become dear rituals to our family during our thirteen summers of vacationing at this beach…”but we always do this…” they plaintively state, as we suggest new ideas, “or “it just wouldn’t seem like vacation, if we didn’t do our yearly miniature golf tournament!”

It is odd, because these same entertainments are available at home, and yet we save them to experience and savor together on our yearly trip to the beach. As our children have grown older, they have begun to bring friends, and still they ask to do the same old things, indoctrinating their friends into our ways, and inviting them into the rituals that bind them together as more than siblings during this precious week each summer.

Laughter, intensity, silliness, conversations, arguments, have accompanied us each year, from the time they were toddler into their teens, only the subject matter and playing fields have changed! Originally it was…”she has my bucket! Now it has progressed to, “I had the volley ball first,” or “I want him on my team!” As much as I enjoy devouring novels on the beach, I enjoy even more, playing games with my teenagers, as we have bocce tournaments, volleyball games, and the never to be outgrown boogie boarding;) My favorite pastime is to watch them enjoying each other…

Each year, John and I marvel at my family, at the uniqueness of each of our children, at their desire to be together, to include others while protecting this precious week at the beach. Erma Bombeck once wrote a book entitled “the family ties that bind and gag” while I never read it, I love the title. (I think when I first heard it, so many chapters formed in my own mind, that I never wanted to read her version, but instead to preserve mine). I think that our yearly beach trip is one of our family ties. Each year, as we repeat ritual and routine, we cement this strange unit called family, one that you are born into and can never really leave. I want the ties that bind my children together to outlive me, and to hold them close. I hope that these ties never gag them, even when the truths they have to tell are ugly and painful. They have some of these kinds of memories as well. In fact, there is one place at the beach that whenever we first drive by it each year, someone remarks, “remember when we went there and mom and dad had that big fight…?” I guess the best thing they learned is that mom and dad can fight… and life, marriage, families as well as vacations can continue.

One night this year, we talked about the bickering that eventually comes with spending 24 hours/day for seven days together in a small condo and realized that living our life in a relatively large suburban home we are not required to all be together for such an extended period of time…not all of us, in the same place, at the same time, for this amount of time, Ever! Except for our yearly week at the beach! No wonder it gets tense sometimes, with 5 strong personalities, shaped and affirmed through years of being encouraged to live out loud!   I laughed as my middle daughter stated this obvious summation. And then my heart warmed as I realized that, in spite of this, and perhaps even in part because of it, year after year, we all anticipate returning and sharing this time that cements our family ties.

So, I have been absent from the blogosphere…missing the news, and even more the camaraderie and friendships…but I will be back sometime next week;)

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