As a yearly tradition dating from the time of my birth, my family has gathered at the beach for a week every summer. The beach has traditionally been the apex of the summer, falling shortly before school began. We have all mostly scattered now, and the beach serves as a dedicated family get-together in lieu of Christmas. My parents' house is barely big enough to contain everyone at this point, and when we run out of space at the beach, we can just rent more houses.
Not only does my immediate family attend the beach, but my father's brother's family always comes with us, missing only one year of the last twenty-nine. This year not only did they come, but so did three of his sisters and their children and their children.
The girls had a wonderful time at the beach, taking as much time from their unmarried male uncles and cousin-uncles (anybody who is related and older than twenty is classified as uncle or aunt) as they possibly could. I think that they would have been happy to go home with them to Alaska, California, Idaho, Maryland, or England without a backwards glance. Unmarried uncles are the best fun in the world that a little girl can have. They're strong, they're funny, they seem to have unlimited energy, and have no children (or wives) of their own to distract them. I am very much grateful to Sam, Mike, Greg, Stephen, JJ and Robbie for all of the tending of my girls.
Edwin unfortunately never quite hit it off with the beach. Unless he had a chair strap or goggles to chew on an distract him from the sand, he cried nonstop. I did take him swimming a few times, but usually the girls wanted come too, and three children who can't swim on one mom is two children too many. When we got inside, however, he was content to spend hours developing his new-found crawling skills.
The beach for me was a reminder of all of the family that I miss living overseas. When we were younger, every night would be spent watching movies. My first viewing of Star Wars occurred at the beach. This year, however, the only movies that got watched were in the day by the children (usually to distract them so we could get something done). Every night we all sat around and talked and talked until much much too late at night. It was a reminder that no matter how far across the world I move and how often I make and say goodbye to friends, I'll always have my family. They never go away.