Saturday, July 23, 2011

Happy Campers

This weekend, my parents, my brothers, sisters, and most of my first cousins, along with their spouses and kids, are having a big family reunion, (which my youngest sister, the hostess with the mostess, has dubbed a "Palooza," and rightly so). People have come from all over the country to gather at my sister's lakeside house in Upstate NY. Some are staying in a rented cottage a few minutes down the road. Many of them brought their tents and camping gear (one cousin even towed his fishing boat all the way from Michigan!), and they're camping out in her back yard. As you can see from the photo on the left, my sister's property looks like an official campground, complete with a Port-a-Potty. My sister and her husband even graciously offered their R.V. for one family to use, and those lucky relatives are sleeping in air-conditioned comfort parked in her driveway.

My husband and I are not really what you would call campers; as one of our favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, likes to say, we're what you would call "indoorsy." (Read: we like comfy beds and hot, running water.) My husband grew up on the lake, with a ski boat anchored right out back and eight siblings who loved to swim and waterski; there was hardly any need for his parents to take their kids anywhere else to provide them with summer fun. They had all they could ask for right out their back door. And my family had a camp on a small lake about 45 minutes from our home, one that was owned by my grandmother for years and then became my parents' special retreat. We would go there for a few weeks every summer when we were kids. At camp, we had a row boat, a motor boat, and a canoe, and a little extra sleep cabin out behind the main cabin that was perfect for slumber parties. That little cabin was musty and spooky, and sometimes had spiders and bats in it, but it made for some great childhood memories. When my husband and I were raising our boys, our vacations were always centered around spending time with family. My childrens' grandparents on both sides had these wonderful places by the lake that we'd enjoyed so much growing up; therefore, why would we need to go to a campsite and set up a tent when we could stay with Papa and Grandma or Mimi and Bigfoot?

So, as I said, my husband and I are not campers. We made the command decision this weekend to forgo a tent and stay at my husband's family home, which is a relatively short drive from my sister's house. That's right, we weaseled out of camping and are sleeping in a king-sized bed with the air conditioner cranked up. I think it looks really fun--really Palooza-like--with the tents set up all over my sister's yard. And by fun I mean uncomfortable.

When we were young parents and people heard that we had five boys, they would often say, "You must camp a lot." Nope! But there are other non-campers out there like us. All you have to do is watch Jim Gaffigan's hilarious DVD called "King Baby" and you'll see what I mean. If you can get through it without laughing until you cry, then you're a better man than I am. When he begins his bit on camping, he says that his parents never took him camping when he was a child. "You know why?" he asks. "Because they LOVED me!" Then he goes on to say that the term "happy camper" is always used to describe someone who's anything but happy. He says that happy campers are the people who are leaving a campsite and on their way back to their houses, where they can shower. Anyway, there is a lot of other funny stuff on this DVD (if you like bacon, it's a must-see!), and I highly recommend it.

Okay, I've gone off-track a bit here. Back to the family reunion. It's been a great visit so far--a bit on the hot side, but if it really becomes unbearable, we can always go jump in the lake, right? It's wonderful to get together with my siblings and my far-flung cousins, to just sit and catch up. We were up until 2:00 a.m. doing just that last night! And my sister's home has provided the most wonderful place to do this. Just look at the photo that showcases the view from her front porch (you can click on it to enlarge it to get the full effect), with the lake and the Green Mountains of Vermont in the background: it is truly magnificent.

We are fortunate and blessed. We ARE happy campers!

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