Friday Letter to my Kids
Dear J, J, L and L,
I’ve been “on vacation” for the past two weeks. As you know from personal experience that means, (ninety-five percent chance) staying with relatives. That’s not a bad thing; it simply means that most of our vacations involve family, not visiting Europe or going on a cruise or hitting the slopes or the beach.
We did do some of that. We had some good times on the slopes for a few years. In fact big J practically emerged from the womb skiing, and little J took to skiing like a seed to dirt. I still get this ache in my stomach about J breaking his collarbone on the first day of a four-day ski trip. No more snowboarding that season. The pain of the break, I’m guessing, felt like nothing compared to the pain of watching everyone else racing down the mountain while you had to lounge around at the lodge every day.
Ouch! I hope you’ve made up in quality what you missed in quantity on that trip.
Given that you put yourself to sleep at night by boarding down a specific run makes me feel pretty good about all the days you managed to get in on the mountain after that.
We never made it to the ocean with all of us together. L and L enjoyed that singular experience. Spring break, we found out the hard way, isn’t really the ideal time to hang out in the Pacific. Chilly, fierce waves, a strong undertow, but plenty of space on the beach. We managed to get a sunburn, sand stuck in every imaginable and unimaginable spot including the sleeping bags. One of my other favorite photos ever? The sun setting orange over the ocean in a thirty mile an hour breeze, and L and L silhouetted just so. Good times, good times.
More than a few of our camping trips involved rain, a couple of them fairly significant amounts. North Carolina rains pale only in comparison to Oklahoma rains. Either way, we ended up soaked, clothes hanging everywhere inside the tent, muddy boots, big smiles, flooded lakes or streams. Good thing we cooked over a backpacking stove or we’d have eaten cold food all those times. I loved big L’s computer drawing, back in the dark ages of computer graphics, of one of our camping in the rain events. Wish we could find that. It’d make a great children’s book. Especially the mud monster part.
Let’s not forget, L and L, Queen of the Flame and Little Muddy Foot. Those two young girls will forever be tender spots in my heart of camping hearts.
Rock climbing and rappelling figure prominently in our getaways. Little did I know what I set in motion when I took that wilderness adventure course. I look back now and shake my head in amazement that I looked on as your Dad roped you in and let you climb at Index or scrambled all over Spire Rock or swing suspended from whatever boulder, cliff or mountain happened to be handy. Dad still refers to little J as “our Arachnid” for your epic climbing abilities.
Yes, most of our vacations involved camping in a tent, which isn’t bad at all.
You also got plenty of experience with airline travel, surprisingly, which has come in handy tons of times, and has become old hat for others. Little J had the chutzpah to backpack Europe once and visit Paris another time. Big J now travels regularly for work, getting around airports and big cities as if they’re simply different runs at a ski resort.
Many of our vacations involved road trips as well. But that, oh my, that is another story or ten for another day and another letter.
Wish we’d taken you to Yellowstone. And I’m sorry, but I never could make myself feel comfortable with taking you to Grand Canyon, even though it’s been less than half a day’s drive for the past eighteen years. My heart couldn’t bear the thought of you anywhere near the edge of an impossible precipice. And Disneyland remains elusive as a family getaway, even though most of you have managed to get there on your own.
I’d like to think we’ll somehow manage one last ginormous family vacation with all the spouses and *babygrands. Maybe that’s why family reunions happen; attempts at reliving or making up for the past.
I’m pretty sure we made good use of our weekends, summers and holidays. I hope you feel the same. Those rank as some of my favorite memories together.
Would surely love some more evenings by a campfire with ya’ll again sometime.
All my love,
*babygrands = grandbabies or grandchildren
“…there ain’t no journey what don’t change you some.”
~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas