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.