Sunday, May 15, 2016

2016.08.05 A Pentecostal Family Weekend

I  just got home from a family weekend. The term alone—“family weekend”—conjures up about every reaction, from groaning dread to breathy hope. Such occasions are archetypal—fondest hopes and worst nightmares inextricably bound. Many hilarious movies have been made about THE family weekend.

Our family is normally abnormal: mom, stepfather ( already not the “real” thing”), 2 daughters, 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, one son-in law, five grandchildren, aged 16 to 2, a teenage friend, and four dogs.

Our family weekends used to be more frequent. We’d relapsed for good reasons, and now we were trying it again. It was  my idea. I’d thrown out the suggestion gingerly—the understanding mom to perfection. Waffling doesn’t get very far, so I persisted. “Does this mean a lot to you, Mom?” someone asked. “This means the world to me,” I said, for once omitting: “BUT I understand how busy you all are.”

We set our rules: a date in spring all of us could make, a place that would accommodate 15, no more than 4 hours away for any of us, with 5 bedrooms (not all bunk rooms) with bathrooms, a comfortable gathering space, functional kitchen, and affordable. My son researched and reported back his findings with online sites we all could inspect.

I had high hopes for this weekend. My mind was cautious. My heart had thrown caution to the winds and beyond.

Miracle #1: he found us a place in N.H. that met all our requirements + a working fireplace. Miracle #2: everyone weighed in favorably. Only one granddaughter couldn’t come, and we missed her.  Miracle #3 took more time: collecting the rent from everyone.  Miracle#4: grim, cold weather turned sunny on Saturday.

Miracle #5: The weekend was everything I’d hoped for, despite an infestation of ticks, several mice, a rustic ski lodge, OLD and used, full of holes, but clean and spacious, some loss of sleep the first night. I slept like a baby. The actual baby, at first, did not.
We laughed like crazy, loved each other like crazy, ate together, played rousing games, engaged in some quiet serious conversations as well as in raucous clowning, including an inflated golden crown for anyone who said anything silly or stupid. Here we are: The Glorious Frontenac Ski Lodge Gaggle, minus the bear, the ticks, and the mouse.

On the way home most of us texted back and forth, extending the humor and good feeling of the weekend. I wrote: “No ticks or mice can daunt love. AND it’s Pentecost/Holy Spirit Sunday. We felt some of her stuff.” A text flew back: “Church nerd?”  All of this was accompanied by many creative emoticons, including ones of ticks and mice.  

I guess we know each other well enough at last to appreciate, not just tolerate, individual quirks and differences. You laugh like crazy and come away crying. Family weekend are mixed blessings which are essential to your soul.

And yes, when the real world settles back in on everyone's shoulders, all of its pains and are still there. Still, we made a memory worth remembering. No one can take that away. 

P.S. On Monday morning Dick, known as Sim and Grampy Sim, was getting dressed when I spied a small black thing on the back of his right leg.  I yelped and told him to hold still, which he found hard to do, being "in a hurry." Sure enough, it was a TICK, a N.H. tick who had followed us home. How sweet. I plucked the tick off and she or he is not in sewer heaven. (Thank Godde we don't have a dog!)  We wept with laughter.