Tuesday, July 14

Like A Warm Blanket

Since I can remember we have always spent a week of our summer vacation with my entire family. I'm talking aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, family friends. Until I was 12 we would go to the same place every year, North Haven Maine. This was a tiny tiny island off the coast of Maine way up. We used to leave our house at midnight (so exciting when you are a kid to drive in the dead of night) and drive all night. My dad would have to take a nap that day to "get ready" and our little Subaru would be PACKED to the gills with stuff crammed everywhere for our week away. Since there was no grocery store on the island we would have to bring ALL of our food with us, along with anything else we would possibly need for the week. Thinking about that now seems ridiculous. I can't imagine having to pack not only our clothes and stuff for a week away, but all the food too? And the booze? Did they pack 30 packs of Bud Light in the car? I can't remember, but it must have been there somewhere. At least there was vodka and manhattan mix, thats for sure. I can barely get away with packing for a weekend away without bringing 4 giant bags. But off we would go in the middle of the night, stopping every year at LL Bean (open 24 hours for some odd reason) to gaze at the giant fish tank while wearing our pajamas. We would arrive at the ferry station 2 days later (OK, so I guess it was about 6 hours but to us kids it seemed like a very long drive, and we were probably sleeping most of the way so it must have seemed like a week to the parents).

After a 5 hour ferry ride (again, my memory may be stretching the length of this trip as well) we arrived on the island and drove the 3 minute drive across to the other side to our cute as a button cove. 3 cottages in a semi circle around a quiet rocky ocean cove. Our place was named "Aunt Annies" and was an old 2 story house that I'm sure was haunted by the ghost of Aunt Annie herself. Her body may actually have resided in the lumpy couch. My cousins got the awesome place on the water called the "Anchorage" and when the tide was in the water was directly under the porch off the galley (that's a kitchen for all you non-nautical people). It had a bunk room with 18 bunk beds (again, there may have been around 4 but when you are 6 years old everything seems HUGE). My great aunt and uncle's place was basically 2 trailer type rectangle structures pushed together. The first had the deck and kitchen and the second had the bedrooms and bathroom. It was so cool, you had to actually leave the bedroom and walk outside and around to the front to get into the kitchen. For the life of me I can't remember the name of it though. Everything smelled like the sea air and we would have to wear lots of sweatshirts and collect starfish and dry them out on the rocks. We would find sea glass and go out in the row boat and swim in the freezing cold 45 degree water. We would dig for clams and my uncle would cook steamers and chowdah and the adults would have cocktail hour starting every day at 2. My cousin Colleen and I would find out who was eating the best dinner at what cottage and eat there. We slept in the bunk room, at haunted Aunt Annies, in the back beds of the rectangle trailer with all the old magazines. There was no t.v., no phone. We listened to our Fisher Price radio and put on shows for ourselves. I always felt safe and loved wherever I went in that cove, and vacations spent there make up my most precious childhood memories.

Fast forward 20 some odd years ahead and what do you find? We are STILL vacationing together. Some things have changed. We no longer go to our dear North Haven (I heard Aunt Annies actually sunk and collapsed right into the marsh behind it) and we have since lost our beloved Uncle Dick, but we do go to our cottages on the lake. Our places are a little more spread out now (although with the way our group has grown that is not exactly a bad thing). We now add our own spouses to the crew, as well as all the kids we've gone on to birth. This year on the Fourth of July there were 26 of us, all decked out in these super cool matching teal tee-shirts.

The best thing about our week away is that I still feel the exact same way I felt when I was a little kid. Like being wrapped in a warm blanket for a week I am completely safe, loved and protected. I love that for one week we all stop our regular lives and come together to just be together. I love that Jack and Abbey will grow up having their very own memories of their wonderful vacation weeks with their cousins, their aunts and uncles. I love that we all still get along well enough to actually want to spend a week together. We are a big close family, and I truly believe the reason we are still a close family is our commitment to having these yearly vacations together. These vacations together lead to holidays together lead to birthday parties together lead to Sunday dinners together lead to, well, lead full circle back to family.


Lindy said...

That is awesome.

I've been trying to start a yearly vacation with our family (sisters, their husbands, kids) - but it hasn't panned out yet.

Here's hoping!

Pam said...

Awesome post Kirt! Reminds me of when I was a kid & my family went camping with 3 other families every year...but it stopped somewhere in the college years, and I miss it.

Love the matching Tees too!

Anonymous said...

Memories...unforgetable times with family. You are blessed.
Carol B.

Erin said...

Kirsten I've missed your posts! Our family has a smaller version of the fourth of July getaway but this year it fizzled, both my cousins bailed because of the weather, which as you know turned out to be FABULOUS! I'm forwarding this post as a gentle reminder that the weekend isn't about the weather it's about family! By the way...love that cocktail hour starts at 2. You are a lucky girl! Great picture too, you and Nanny together is especially sweet! Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

IT WAS THE R&R!!!!!!! i was like 3, and i still remember!!!

Kirsten said...

Of course, the R&R! How could I forget. As soon as I read it I remembered. Was this a momentary mental block? or a tricky little quiz to see who exactly of my family ACTUALLY reads my blog? Thanks to my brother Matt for jogging my memory and passing the test!

Anonymous said...

Kirsten, that was beautiful, it brought a tear to my eye... Love, Mom