'Tis the Season
I'm writing this during the final night of my family's 2nd annual Thanksgiving Beach Trip. I'm a nostalgic person, by nature. When I was younger, leaving the beach seemed like the saddest thing in the world to me. I would take home buckets filled with tiny bits of sand and seashells, hoping those mementoes would somehow make it easier to say goodbye.
I'm not much different now, although I've since realized the practicalities of taking home beach sand aren't exactly realistic.
I often catch myself feeling the premature sadness of impending endings, and try to stop those feelings in their tracks before they ruin a joyful present moment. I try.
This year, I've got three of my second cousins running around with us. I grew up with a tight-knit crew of cousins, and now some of them have kids and families of their own.
It's not lost on me, the growing of another generation. I know how we must seem to them, because not so long ago I was in their position: Growing up into a legacy, traditions, a family I'm still learning more and more about day by day.
I want to tell them every piece of it that still rests inside of me. Not just to the little ones, but the others who have joined our family over the years. I want them to know every inside joke and story and saying and tradition as well as I do, fit all of it in. To understand us, maybe, or just because it's important for them to know.
With the new little ones, I wonder what stories they'll hear over, and over, and over through the years. I worry about the stories that will get lost and forgotten along the way.
I think about the stories I know about the family members I never got to even meet, like how Bobby Sid used to float on his back in the ocean and take the kids to church on Sundays. Or the millions of stories I've heard from my mom and her siblings about their RV trip out west. All of the things I know about the things happening before I was born; the legends of my family passed down from generation to generation.
I want to teach the kids the song we used to sing to 'summon' big waves for bodysurfing. I want them to know about the green light, and the time we danced around it as an apology to Uncle Greg. I want to impress on them the reasons why these beach trips are so important to us all, why our family is so close, and why that's so important to keep fighting for as the years go by.
If I'm being honest, that's what I wonder and worry about the most.
Our little family is growing. There's a lot of names for my littlest cousins to learn, and there will only be more and more and more. I want to watch them grow up and stay closer than just yearly family reunions.
I wonder, sometimes, how often we'll be able to do this. How much longer can we fit into one house, under one roof, in one living room?
When you're younger, and attending family reunions, it's disorienting when elderly people you don't recognize pinch your cheeks and remark on how much you've grown since last year. Now, I'm starting to understand it. When I'm that age, and my cousins are all grandparents or great-grandparents, I'll be pinching each new generations' faces with the same tenderness and love, and maybe the same sadness.
As I find myself drifting into nostalgia, I (once again) strive to ground myself in the present.
'Tis the season to be grateful for what's in front of you, even if it's only here for this season.
Even if, one day, we do outgrow beach trips (and I hope that day is far, far away). Even if, one day, we're brought together only by yearly family reunions. For now, I am tremendously grateful for my tight-knit, fight for each other family.
Yesterday, a friend remarked how incredible it was that so many family members were able to stay on the beach trip for the entire Thanksgiving week. In contrast, she said, it was a struggle to convince parts of her family to stay for the entire Thanksgiving day.
As much as I have taken this family for granted in my life, it is the thing I am most thankful for. I am thankful for the inside jokes and shared stories. As for one of my silly stories, I'll pass it on to you:
When my cousins and I were younger (and to be honest, still now), we loved to body surf and boogie board in the ocean. Problems arose when the water was too calm for us to play in, and so we had to invent a way to make bigger waves.
As one does when you're ~8 years old, we invented a song to entice bigger waves to the shore. It goes...
Oh cometh, ye mighty wave-eths Raise your waters to the sky (to the sky) Oh cometh, ye mighty wave-eths Rah, rah, rah!
Thank you for letting me pass a piece of my childhood history on to you. I hope that, whatever your family looks like, you can find things to be thankful for this holiday season.