Traditions – What makes family time so comforting

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Katie is blog-deficient.  And she is too busy.  So, I shall take up the staff and blog on!  (Yes, you should have gotten a wizard staff image!  Charge!) 

George and I are going to the beach for 4 days next week.  So excited!  And when I say, “the beach,” I mean Cape May, a.k.a. “Cool Cape May 20 Miles At Sea (CCM20MAS).”  We have tshirts.  Don’t ask. 

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So G and I are trying to cram alllllllllll of our many beach traditions into a few days.  And we acquire new ones every time we go.  Because in my family, when you do something once…  it’s a tradition.  

Stopped at a diner on the way to the beach once….  Tradition.  Everyone meets there half-way through their 3-hour trip (let’s be honest, that is NOT long), for bad, small-town diner food.  We take pics with the sign.  When we text across multiple family cars en route, it’s always, “Have you passed the Woodstown Diner?”

And then there are endless activities at the beach that we have to do / visit each time.  As children, those were favorite toy stores, mini gulf courses, and arcades; as teenagers, those favored spots were coffee places where we could check email and AIM, surf shops (no we don’t surf, we grew up on the EAST coast!), and over-priced beach clothing stores; and now as “adults,” those places have evolved into breweries, vineyards, favorite restaurants, lovely walks/bike rides, and piano players in lounges.  

Funny how our tastes change, but our tendency toward tradition, comfort, and repetition do not.  My family is huge.  And tight.  And we try to all get to Cape May during the same week, or at least weekend, each summer (and right after Christmas for winter beach enjoyment!).  Whether I go out with members of my family or not, I inevitably run into one of them in the mall or on the boardwalk.  We pass messages to each other, despite our access to cell phones, and make plans to meet on the beach or for dinner later that night.  We are all doing our own things, but come together for certain important pieces of every day. 

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A typical Fusting day in Cape May:

If I go for a run or walk on the boardwalk in the morning, I’ll probably pass my grandmother and aunt Debbie walking and pumping their arms, and then maybe a cousin or 5 running, training for an upcoming fall season of field hockey or football, and then I’ll see uncle Jim heading back from his morning bike ride.    Get home and Grandpop is sitting on the porch listening to satellite oldies radio, drinking coffee and munching on a crumpet of sorts.  Jim Lynn is drinking coffee and reading the paper.   Debbie/Kate/Meredith etc. are doing yoga.  Young Fusting boys are anxiously awaiting the opening of the arcades.  And the Lynn girls and Emma are getting ready for another day at the beach (don’t worry about packing a lunch – Debbie and Jim will pack it and bring it for them later when they join them on the beach).  Jim Lynn has set up the semi circle of beach chairs and umbrellas, securing our giant Fusting spot for the day before his breakfast.  And we’re off…  people disperse to the beach, to the mall, to the arcades, but all end up meeting at the beach by 1 or 2pm, and stick around until 4 or 5pm.  My mom grudgingly comes to the beach around 3pm (because she is scared of the sun and lathers herself in coats and coats of sunscreen, then layers on clothing and hats, and then wraps a towel around herself, but she doesn’t want to wait ’til later in the day because she knows we’ll all be leaving by then).  And then there’s Jeff, my stepdad, who refuses both to pay for a beach tag to enter the beach between 10am-4pm, and to wear sunscreen, so he comes down at 4:30pm every day.  Family dinner, usually with some competition between the men of the various sides of the family, a walk into town for ice cream, and then back in time for a game or for a movie.  

Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Throw in the occasional winery visit, walk down to the Rusty Nail or Brown Room for some live music entertainment and beverages, and you’ve got the trip. 

This year, I cannot go when my family goes, since I just started a new job and August is their busy season. So G and I will do our best to represent our Fustingness, adhere to tradition, visit the Whale’s Tale, the sunken ship, the arcades, mini gulf, enjoy usic in the Brown Room, visit some wineries, and snooze on the beach.  Whoosh.  Lots of to do. 

But CCM20MAS is my happy place and nothing could change that.  Bring on the sand, salt, and sweat.  I’ll be thinking about all you Fustings out there and missing you the whole time!

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