Friday, December 17, 2010

I am Thankful for the Blessings of 2010: #4 – Family Vacation

[As the year comes to an end, I am listing a few of the things that happened during 2010 for which I am most thankful. The list is not in order of significance.]

I am thankful for our family vacation on Saint George Island.

One of my mother’s favorite maxims was “It’s going to come home to roost on your own head, son.” It took me a long time to figure out this image was the Cracker version of “You will reap what you sow.” For some reason her pithy saying almost always ended with “son.” I’m not confessing to having been a problem child; I’m just admitting that my mother may (emphasis on “may”) have seen me that way from time to time.

I’m 57 years old and a lot of things have returned to adorn my head and leave their droppings at my feet. About all you can do in those situations is appreciate your Momma’s clairvoyance, give thanks for the free fertilizer, and just get use to the stains.

One of my sins against my mother was that when I got married I moved a great distance from home. The closest we lived to my parents was 400 miles. That meant that at best I saw them five or six times a year. I did try to spend at least a week with them every summer and another week at Christmas time. Cheryl and I also put forth a special effort to see that our daughters got to spend time with them.

The bitterness of my transgression was intensified when Mom and Dad retired and moved to the farm. My Aunt Betty and Uncle Moncie lived a quarter mile up the road and they have a large, loving family. Their God-fearing, mother-honoring clan stayed close to home; all but one of them could be at their mother's table in twenty minutes. And their sister was less than two hours away.

To hear my mother tell it, Aunt Betty and Uncle Moncie’s clan, all seventy or eighty of them, got together every few weeks. “They were all there, except for Bill (their grandson), and he’s in the Air Force stationed somewhere way overseas, don’t you know.” That is, he’s not just up in Tennessee.

“I just want to see my whole family together more than once a year for a few minutes,” she would add. Although she didn’t say it, I could hear her thoughts, “This is going to come home to roost on your own head, son. You mark my words.”

I did mark a lot of her words and I do think of them often. Alethea, Justin, Camdyn, and Charlie live in Haymarket, Virginia; that’s a nine hour drive. Karisa and Johnmark live in Wheaton, Illinois; that’s a ten and one half hour drive. It seems we will not be getting together a lot. [Girls, mark my words; it will come home to roost.]

It is wonderful to be with any of them. Some of my cherished memories are when we have been just with Alethea and her family or when we have been just with Karisa and Johnmark. In either of those situations I can spend more focused time with each one.

On the other hand, there is something extra special about being all together.

This year we were all together for vacation on St. George Island on the Gulf coast of Florida. It is our favorite vacation place. Last year we were in the Smoky Mountains together. Next year I am hopeful we will vacation somewhere together. Rumor has it that we might be camping in the Shenandoah National Park together.

St. George is great because it is on Florida’s “Forgotten Coast.” It is not crowded and lacks any touristy ambiance. It’s like stepping back in time. Families are there enjoying the beach, relaxing, and entertaining themselves. I will be thankful wherever we go next. The gift to me is just being together.  Scenic views are a bonus.

That’s the view from my well fertilized garden of hopes and dreams.

Cleveland, Tennessee
December 17, 2010

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