|Family Vacations and Annual Traditions...
||[Jun. 6th, 2006|09:08 am]
Cross-posted in my own LJ and ask_me_anything
Did your family ever used to go on summer vacations together? Was there a special place you usually went every year? Is there a special place you go now?
When I was really little, we always visited friends or family members who had cottages. I remember going to Flesherton, or Bobcaygeon with my parents, who still have a house there now. Actually, they bought the house when I was 14, but Uncle Mike and Aunt Anne had property in that neighbourhood for as long as I can remember and when they had their summer cottage, we often stayed there with them.
Eventually, the cottage was moved up the street and bought by my aunt's brother Jamie and she and Uncle Mike had a permanent house built on the property where the cottage used to be. SHe still lives there today. Both my dad and Uncle Mike have passed away; Uncle Mike in March of 1991 and my dad on July 17th, 2003.
We also used to travel quite frequently to Sarnia where my AUnt Jean and Uncle Alex used to live. A couple times we visited Storybook Gardens along the way. THere were a few summers where we used to do quite a bit of travelling between Sarnia and Bobcaygeon, especially whenmy cousin Peter visited us from Holland for the first time.
I realize I'm kind of hopscotching back and forth here because things are kind of a blur, but from around 1972 or 1973 until around 1978 for awhile we had a trailer on my Aunt Jean and Uncle Alex's property. You see, they eventually sold the house in Sarnia and had a house built on the property where we had our trailer. My cousins had a trailer too, and Uncle Alex got sick of driving us to the swimming hole in Varney every day so we all pitched in and assembled an above-ground pool where we spent many leisurely summer days.
My parents sold the trailer at the end of 1978 so they could buy the hose in Bobcaygeon where we spent many summer vacations and weekends until Dad retired and I graduated from high school, to live there permanently.
Watching that show last night about Wildwood, New Jersey, captured my imagination and made me yearn for simpler, more carefree times. It fascinated me, the idea of generations of families returning to the same place year after year, staying at the same hotel where everyone knew eachother.
I guess the closest thing I've had to a "Wildwood"-type vacation were those times my parents and I would go out to Wasaga Beach to stay with Micheal and Jennifer and their kids Richard and Robert. Richard was my childhood friend, way back when I was a toddler, until we were about seven or eight. Same with Della and the three of us knew eachother through a mutual friend of the family whom we called "Aun" Thurza. Thurza, too, has long since passed on, but I remember her telling me and Richard about an amusement park two miles away.
Our parents wouldn't take us, so we walked up the boardwalk on our own without their permission and got in big trouble. We never did find the amusement park. All we found was this gronky little coin-operated two-horse carousel with most of the paint chipped off. We wished we had change to make it go. Richard's mother found us there and our punishment was having to run to keep up with her on her bike as she marched us home!
It was the most terrifying day of my mom's life because when she was looking for me, she heard the sound of a child screaming in a nearby house "NO! NO! NO! STOP IT! LEAVE ME ALONE!" and this child sounded just like me.
Terrified, my mom knocked on the door. This surly-looking drunk answered with beer on his breath. "Whaddaya want?"
"I'm looking for my daughter!"
"She ain't here!"
Perhaps the biggest trip my family ever took together was the time the three of us flew to Holland when I was 10 years old. We stayed at Aunt Geertje's most of the time but we also travelled to my cousin Leny and her husband Jan's place and cousin DIck and his wife Ina. We saw a lot of interesting sights including the Rijksmuseum, Madurodam, the Rotterdam zoo, etc. My favorite place was Scheveningen, where, of course, I rode a beautiful carousel.
It would appear nowadays that the annual family vacation is a dying art, likely because the whole concept of family is also something that, over the years, has been dying a slow, painful death. Most families don't stay together anymore. The economy is such now that both partners have to have a source of income in order to enjoy the same standard of living that their parents and grandparents enjoyed. Some of us nowadays, like myself, have chosen not to even procreate, for numerous reasons.
I say, even if you don't have an actual family, it's still good to have annual traditions with a special bunch of friends to enjoy travelling with every year. When Janette and I moved to Toronto in 1994, the following June, we went on our first NIagara trip together and we've been going there every year since then, usually for a weekend. Usually it's just been the two of us, but in 2001 we went with Mark and for her 40th birthday we travelled as a foursome, her and Mark and me and my husband.
Sadly, that's the last time I was there. YOu can read more about these adventures in niagarabugz