When I was little, I would get so excited about Christmas I would puke. No kidding. I would get a sick headache, as a child, and just throw up. For me, there is as much excitement in the anticipation of an event as the event itself.
It’s exactly the same for me now, as a grown up.
Soon we are headed to vacation. It’s a big one. ALL the cousins & Co. will be together in one house for one week. At the beach. The introverts in the family are nervous as all get out. And I’ve driven the relaxed people in the family mad with a series of emails, attempting to preempt any disaster like forgetting pepper.
There will be coffee, sunrise, beach, repeat – daily for seven solid days. I’m giddy with excitement and anticipation. Giddy. It’s going to be so epic, I think I’m going to call it a ‘sabbatical’ on my email auto reply. The piety that ‘sabbatical’ implies makes people think twice before asking you to do something. Besides, God and I have a thing about the beach. He knows what I mean.
I am anticipating a marvelous week of reading, writing, and loving my family. Let me tell you about the company I will be keeping….
First, there is my Mom. Now, she needs this week more than anyone else. Period. And I hereby proclaim that if her iPhone rings and she even thinks about answering it, I will subsequently and immediately be forced to throw it as far into the ocean as possible. And her computer. She needs this week. She needs that great big ocean and that long sandy beach to get right down to the bottom of her spirit and settle her all the way to her core. I can’t wait to see it. To see her fingers dangle off the side of the chair, carelessly. To see her walk at a regular pace. To see her smile and linger and not rush. To see her read and sleep. To see her fuss with her beach hair, which is curly and unruly and beautiful. She. Needs. This. Week.
Then, there is my aunt. She is as serious a beach nut as ever there was. She will park herself out there on that beach until the day is done. She’ll drink 3 cups of coffee before she gets out there, then a massive Pepsi out of a massive cup, and she will mysteriously never have to go in as long as the day lasts. She’s trained for this, if you know what I mean. She’ll sit and feed the birds, from her hands. She’ll be the only one still enough and patient enough to do it.
My oldest cousin is exactly like her mother. She will drag herself in from the beach at the last possible moment of the late afternoon. She’ll be sorry that the day is done. She’ll sit idly by, waiting for someone to trip (it will probably be me) on something. Then she’ll laugh so hard, she won’t be able to talk. She’ll tell everyone else about it too, calling each of us by the nickname she has bestowed lovingly upon us. Mine is Nanner. “Hey Porky, did you hear what Nanner did? ahahhhahhaaaa……Chippy or Uni, you tell it, I can’t quit laughing.” My favorite memories of her are from the beach. Where she taught me to make drip castles. We’ll still make them. And we’ll get to talk. And no matter how loud the people are, the ocean will drown out the sound enough so that we can have our own conversation.
My sister, Keldy, will be there. She’s my sister by marriage. And I’m telling you, I don’t know how we did family
vacation sabbatical without her. I wish you could see what she can do with a kitchen that isn’t hers. She will get in there, and in 10 minutes, have it make sense for us. We won’t know where plates or cereal should go until she gets there. I’m not sure what this is called on the spiritual gift inventory, but it is undoubtedly from the Lord. I’m so scared because I’ll be there 1 day earlier than she will. We’ll just have to eat donuts for every meal until she arrives.
Ashley will be there too. Now, I’ve always liked her, but I fell head over heals for her when we went to New York City together 8 years ago. The Pierce family was a disaster in the Big Apple. We aren’t fast paced. Like…at all. All we did was walk from one Starbucks to another complaining about how far we were from an actual beach. When she found humor in our ignorance of the subway system, the ferry system, and the bus system, I knew she was a keeper. She fit so perfectly into our family’s hilarities… and I’m pretty sure that was the weekend that my cousin, Jason, decided to propose. Am I right?
Jason will be there. And no matter what, he will be talking. To anyone or anything. We just love to talk to each other, and these pesky things called careers, kids, and home maintenance are constantly getting in the way of our important conversations…which could probably solve global warming, the marriage crisis, and all the wars if anyone would just listen.
My uncle, Eddie, will be there. He’ll wander off daily, and have a seriously unbelievable story to tell when he returns. Like, we won’t actually know whether or not to believe it unless my aunt confirms it. I thought he served in the military until I was 22. He’s likely to pick up a new hobby as well, like surfing. Or kiteboarding. Whatever it is, it won’t be coffee and conversation for 16 straight hours. He’ll find something to do.
Kelly will be there. And we’ll stay up until we can’t hold our eyes open, talking. Because we can. And it’s worth it to be tired and grumpy the next day to talk just a little longer, to make one more memory. Her husband, David, will be there, thinking up hilarious one-liners for all of the idiosyncratic things we all do all week long.
Michael will be there. He’ll drag the kids around on the snow-sled-turned-skim-board. For hours. On. End. The ‘rope’ you see is an extension cord. (That’s the kind of thing David will comment on.) But, hey, it’s been going strong for about 5 years.
My brothers will be there. They’ll be fully present too. Jeremy will dig a hole big enough to park a car in.
Jonathan will cook. This is his meal from last year…. I mean…
The guys will play football until they have sandburn so bad they can’t move. It will be on top of the sunburn they all have, except Jason….who will liberally apply SPF 70 every hour on the hour.
We’ll eat ‘Sweet 16’ powdered sugar donuts every day. Because my granddaddy started the tradition, and we will honor that, by golly.
We’ll try to set a time for dinner, bless our hearts. But we’ll be late every single day. We just will. It will be annoying, and we’ll try to figure out why. And that will take 10 more minutes. (That’s what my husband will comment on.)
All of our kids will be there. There will be screaming and crying and carrying on. It’s all part of it. I am super afraid my kids (who are oldest) are going to teach all the kids who are learning to speak words like ‘lame’ and ‘stupid’ and how to roll their eyes at adults. But Nolan said today he is most looking forward to watching TV at the beach. Whatev. It’s his vacation too. We don’t have cable at home. I honestly don’t care if they max out their screen time for the entire year. I’m going to stick them in life jackets, put snacks on a low shelf, and re-lax, my friends.
And at the end of the week, when we begrudgingly pull out of that drive to go back to our various responsibilities, I will be so saturated in gratitude for this precious family I won’t be able to speak. Everyone is sacrificing something to come. Money, work, time. I’ll glare out that window and try to sear every single moment into my memory, because I know how unusual it is to truly enjoy a family vacation. I’ve seen every single National Lampoon’s movie. Our vacations are exactly like that, except we all like each other.
Good food, great coffee, endless waves, people I love….
I’m so excited I think I’m going to puke.