My grandfather owned a beach house in North Myrtle Beach so when I was growing up we went to the beach a lot. Like every spring break, the first two weeks of June, and several weekends during fall and winter. And the entire month of August. This worked out great for my blond-haired, blue eyed, olive-skinned siblings, but my pale freckly skin was perpetually burned and I’m sure the fallout is not going to be pretty. Still…what am I complaining about? It was a free vacation, and one that my family has become addicted to. So although granddaddy’s beach house was sold over thirty years ago, my mother and her sister are committed to sharing a beach house at least one week of every year so that their grandchildren can have the same experiences we did. Except now instead of ten of us there are twenty one which makes everything a lot louder and more complicated.
But we have our traditions and most of us really look forward to our yearly get together. Of course with twenty one people there have to be rules (right?), so this year’s beach week started with a new set of rules laid out by my mother and her sister, the grandmoms. You can see by the photo how seamlessly the rules were enacted.
And some of us have developed special skill sets for coping with the large in-house crowd. My father disappears into a book. My sister heads out to the beach during the hottest part of the day when everyone else is inside, and my aunt and cousin have picked up the habit of putting together jigsaw puzzles in the corner of the room while the extreme extroverts among us play loud games. This year’s favorite is BANG.
So, okay, the cramming all of us into one house can be less than 100% perfect, what makes us want to keep doing it? Well, time spent together in the sand is one reason. A lot of us (okay, mostly the males) enjoy daily games of petanque, which is similar to Bocce and played in France. We still have the set my husband bought when he was an exchange student living there. Others of us (okay, mostly the females) enjoy looking for shark’s teeth. I usually enjoy this the most of all because over the years I’ve developed a reputation as the best shark-tooth finder. Here are some that we found this year.
The school aged kids all love swimming in the ocean despite what finding the large sharks’ teeth proves, their fearlessness amid the breakers evoking fearfulness in their parents. We usually build at least one big sand castle, play at least one after-dinner game of Spoon, and cook some of the same favorite meals.
Every year is the same, and every year is different. I am thankful for all of our traditions, both important and trivial. And I think, no matter what your traditions are, the simple tradition of etching out time to spend with family is one of the most important parts of growing up. Happy summer everyone!