Monday, July 4, 2011

Celebrating the fourth and family

We just got back from a quick trip to my in-laws' cottage on a lake to celebrate the fourth of July.

The night before we left the kids couldn't sleep and my stomach was in knots.  We were cooking, baking, packing candy bars along with our beach towels and swimsuits.  You see the fourth of July is not just about sparklers and barbecues in my husband's family.   It is so much more.

It is a family reunion extravaganza.  Campers, kids, grills, pop-up tents, face-painting, potlucks, candy bar bingo, baseball games and more.

Every year over 50 family members gather at my in-laws' cottage.  A few stay in hotels, but most of the people stay on the property either in the cottage or in their campers and tents.  I will be honest, as my family grows I stress about our sleeping arrangements.  I also stress out about my passing dish, the lack of air conditioning, bug bites and water safety on the lake.

Sometimes I pretend to be laid back, but it is weekends like these that I realize I am so not.  My facade comes crashing down.  

The morning we left for the cottage we were all running around like the scene in "Home Alone" when they are leaving for the airport, and I was in deed worried we would leave someone behind.  The thing about traveling with a ton of kids is that it doesn't matter if you are going away for one night or a month, you have to pack pretty much the same amount. A lot. Just in case of course.

Once we got to the cottage, everything looked as it should.  The campers were lined up, the flags were hanging and people were ready to celebrate.

Ready to celebrate the fourth, family and tradition.  

This family might just be the most patriotic family I have ever met.   Who else do you know that has a parade through their own campsite while singing "Yankee Doodle Dandee?"

They also may be one of the most joyful families I have ever met.  Walking through the campground, I see generations of families sitting together truly enjoying each other's company.  Really laughing--heads thrown back, holding stomachs kind of laughing.  

Now there is almost always somebody that drinks too much, says too much or gets in a fight with their spouse.  I said they were a joyful, patriotic family, not perfect.  And yes at one time or another, I have been in one or all of those above categories in my 13 years of coming to this celebration.

But people, even those that made mistakes, come back to the party every year.  This family forgives, understands, supports and accepts.  
Even though I stress about the little things, the big picture is what it is all about. 
And I love the fact that my kids think every family celebrates the fourth with their own parade!

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