Summer means many things to different people. For some, it means corn on the cob, watermelon and barbeque chicken. For others, freedom from school and endless hours of playtime. And for some, it simply means having to go to work in much warmer weather. For me, it has always meant weeks at Priest Lake with my loud and lovely extended family.
On my way home from a week at the lake for the 15th summer in a row, I realized that much of who I am comes from these weeks of beautiful chaos, craziness and love that happens at Priest Lake. And while I would argue that the lake is one of the most beautiful places in the world, that is not why this place means so much to me. Much more than the location of our annual reunion, it is the people who show up every year that make it such a sacred place for all of us. And as I turned to drive down the gravel road I have driven so many times, I realized that not everyone has a place like this, a place that is a part of their family.
In today's society, when "family" dinner is often accompanied by the soft glow of the television-if a family meal happens at all-and family games, outings and traditions become more scarce as people find themselves pulled in all different directions, I think that summer is the perfect time for families to reconnect after a crazy year. With its long days and usually pleasant weather, it has the ability to recharge a family that during other times of the year might feel fragmented, rushed and stretched to the breaking point
Growing up, when I would look back in review of a year, I never remembered a test I failed, or a movie I saw with a friend. But my brothers and I always remembered those days and nights spent with aunts, uncles and cousins at the lake.
It takes a first to start a tradition. Fifteen years ago, if my mom and her siblings hadn't made the effort to have a family reunion on Priest Lake, we would have missed out on some pretty special memories, like the year everyone got food poisoning, or the year it rained almost every day, or the year the car broke down on the way to the lake. Because even those memories, that in the moment they happened were the "worsts" of a family vacation, have become the "bests" in terms of stories, memories and how our family bonded over some less than perfect moments. Those are the stories that, although meaningless and unfunny to anyone else, still bring us to the floor with laughter.
Every year we get together to laugh and cry together, to tease each other and learn from each other, but most of all, to share, grow and love with one another.
My family, the whole crazy lot of us, have more than a number of imperfections. But it is the combination of all those imperfections thrown together in a cabin for a week that make family reunions worth having, make my cousins much more like siblings than "relatives," and make Priest Lake a home for all of us.[[In-content Ad]]