I have always loved tradition. For more than 30 years, my Grandma Joan has rented a beach house for two weeks every summer. During that time we do nothing but swim, sun tan, and enjoy each other’s company. The whole motley crew comes out: Grandma Joan with her binoculars, my mom with her seashells and crafts, my dad in his often too-short shorts, Tyler (my cousin) with his surfboard, Sara (my other cousin) in her cute Juicy Couture bikini, Aunt Tami with her novels and blackberry simultaneously, and Uncle Chris with every other gadget imaginable just in case of a cut, bruise, or even a stingray attack (which has actually happened). And then there’s me- usually with a Harry Potter book, a beach towel, and a popsicle.
Each year the beach has offered something new to me. When I was a baby, my dad would hold on to me as the waves greeted my eager toes. When I was a toddler the elaborate sand castles my mom would spend hours building were quickly destroyed when I thought it would be funny to tear it down. Yes, I was a real rebel. Then when I was a child, Sara and I would spend hours boogey boarding and making crafts- only to be tortured in the evening by Clowny (My Uncle Matt took it upon himself to wear my Grandma Joan’s nightgown, a clown mask, and wig for a little added humor). As five year olds, we didn’t think it was so funny. As a ten year old, my dad and I would wake up at 5:00 in the morning to head for the tide pools. Every day we’d add to our live aquarium- composed of fish, sea anemones and sea cucumbers- even an octopus! My dad always made sure that octopus was well fed too…the crab shells in the morning proved that. As we grew up, we knew that we could always count on the puzzles, smores, and a good ol’ card game of Old Misery; the traditions continue to last.
Even as Sara, Tyler, and I grow up, the beach house has never really changed. Sure, sometimes there’d be a new sofa or a table, but the soul of the house was always sure and steady. That salty sea air still lingers in the air when you arrive and the sound of the waves crashing still welcomes you when you wake up. The memories will last a lifetime and we are always assured that we will walk away each year with new and meaningful stories.
I always leave the beach as a happier person. It is a time of self reflection where I can have peaceful moments to myself; yet it is also a time of laughter, nostalgia, and joy as I enjoy the best days of summer with those I love the most: my family.