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Family Values on Vacation: The Things That Count
Family Values on Vacation: The Things That Count
We set off on the six hour journey to, well...the middle of nowhere. All five of us crammed in mom’s powder blue 2002 Saturn wagon. I think the only thing my sisters would agree with me on is the fact that we were not looking forward to this so called "vacation" that 14 of our relatives planned on taking this summer for our Papa (grandfather). Between all of the singing to our iPods too loudly, squirming around in our seats to get slightly comfortable, and the constant arguing with mom that were not the only family in the whole world who fights; anyone could tell that yes, we definitely weren't looking forward to it.
“Welcome to Wittig’s Resort!” read a large piece of dirt brown driftwood right near the entrance. As we pulled in through the woods, numbered cabins appeared on our left and right and mom pulled into a parking space in front of cabin number 4. My sisters and I sluggishly got out of the car and began to unload our luggage, all of us groaning with desperation to check into the nearest hotel. Walking up the front steps I immediately was whiffed away by the strong scent coming from the lake. I slowly dragged my legs that seemed to weigh 100 pounds each up the stairs that led to the luxurious suite that mom called home, but on the other hand the place I considered to be nothing of the sort. I stepped into the cabin and placed my bags on the floor and took a good look around. The first thing I noticed looking into the family room was the fact that there was no T.V. How was I supposed to watch One Tree Hill that following Monday?! That right then and there was enough to make me turn on my heels and head out the door, but instead I decided to keep my head up and strolled into the bedroom. I took a seat on the bed. The mattress was hard and as I lay down I could feel the springs poking up into my back. It was about 90 degrees out and the best thing was that there was absolutely no air conditioning, only a fan the size of the pillow my head rested on as I made the conclusion that Wittig’s was no resort.
Time seemed to come to a standstill that very” looonng” week in July. Our days consisted of waking up, grabbing breakfast with all the cousins, putting on our swimming suits, and making our way down to the pier. Once there, the girls and I laid out our beach themed towels, lotioned, and soaked up the sun. The boys and the uncles quickly packed their lunches, put together their tackle boxes, and headed into the row boat for a day full of fishing. Summer reading was the main thing we occupied ourselves while lying out in the sun. But once we got hot enough there was no hesitation in taking off down that strip of wood, they call a pier and flinging ourselves off the dock to land graciously into the cool water of Fish Trap Lake. It was the very best way to cool off. Sometimes we’d grab a kayak and head off into the vast waters that were unknown to all of us. After the sun started to set, we would all head back to the cabins and get ready for dinner and head out to the restaurant that the parents had picked that night. We’d all sit together if the place could fit our huge family in one table. My sisters, cousins, and I would all gossip about past family affairs and laugh at old jokes. Things that didn’t seem so funny back then were for some reason hilarious to us now as we looked back on them. When we got back to Wittig’s, it was Papa’s idea to hang out in the Tavern. The Tavern is like no other place I’ve ever seen before. It’s decorated with wall ornaments that dress the walls from head to toe; musky, bass, northern pike, and walleye are hung above the bar in order to display the various trophies of fisherman’s past catches and give some truth to the numerous fish tales told by the folks sitting at the bar. In truth is the “one that got away stories” were much more common. The kids and I sat at the tables and ate our ice cream as the parents sat at the bar and ordered a few drinks and reminisced over old times in this exact place.
As I sat in my seat and took a good hard look at the big picture in front of me, I saw family. My mom has been coming here since she was little and she has some wonderful stories to tell. She’s made us girls make this excursion year after year and though it doesn’t hold the same draw for us, it is a time that we all have to get along; did I mention no TV, and actually talk to one another, horse around with one another, and not only listen to the parents old stories but have a chance of creating new ones of are own. Big or small, we were all here together and getting along. Some were throwing their heads back in laughter, some were listening as the other told a story, and some were finishing each other’s stories. I soon found myself smiling, and then I looked over at my Papa.
In that moment I saw tears streaming down an 87 year old man’s face with a grin that stretched from ear to ear. I didn’t quite now what had tickled his funny bone, something my mom did as a little girl, maybe something my grandmother ( honey) had said or more than likely it Papa was recounting the story of his mistakenly putting on Honey’s Gloria Vanderbilt jeans since he left at the crack of dawn to fish. A story by the way I’ve learned Honey didn’t really care to have retold again and again. Each member of the family seemed to have their own take on this vacation spot and had a story to offer to the group. Every story made the family laugh harder than the time before and made an everlasting impression in their memories.
I immediately stood up from my chair and glided on what seemed like thin air to reach him. Once there, I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him into me for a hug. All at once I was overcome with love and happiness, something I thought I would never be able to feel in a place like this. It soon hit me that family means everything, no matter where you are, where you come from, where you’re going or in my case where your mom makes you go.
After we pack up and make the trek back to home/reality, each one of us will soon go back to our normal routines, whether that’s in a cubicle at work or sitting on a an old wooden desk chair staring at the blackboard in school. Family, I’ve come to realize, are the ones I can count on to always be at my side. Traditions that my family has been making ever since I can remember will remain memories and will be looked back on for years to come. I know that at the next family get together we will look back on this vacation and remember the times we shared laying out by the lake and catching every ray of sunlight in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin.
It’s at Wittig’s Resort that I’ve learned that life isn’t always about how much money you make, how many materials you own, or how expensive the last vacation you took was. Instead, life can measured right down to the roots of your family tree and how much you shower that tree with time and effort that you put in to watch that tree grow with love. No matter where I end up in the future, I know that I can count on coming home to a family that shares an inseparable bond with one another. I’ve captured the perfect picture of my family with my own two eyes and have placed it away in my heart where it will remain forever.