“Grammy, do you ever wish the cabin was bigger?” I had to smile. With 17 people gathered for the weekend, coming in and out of the modest abode, it was a fair question. No sooner had I responded to the seven year old, “Yes, I do, Mya!” when her mother chimed in.
“You have to remember, Mya, when I was little it was only the five of us here. It was just the right size for us.” She was right. How well I remember coming up the driveway for the first time, knowing right away that it was made for us. Perusing the knotty pine interior, the stone fireplace, and the two tiny bedrooms. It was the simplicity of the place that appealed to me. The bookshelf to stock with cabin reading. The short wooden dock, enough for our 12′ boat. It was a place to build family memories.
What is it about a remote cottage, with its cramped space, mismatched dishes, mattresses that sag, raggedy towels and a needy wood stove that is so appealing? The yard games we never play at home are entertaining there. Bonfires invite storytelling. Grilled meat tastes better. The chilly lake dares intrepid swimmers and fishermen. Board games take on new life, and fierce competition. It’s a-ok to lie in a hammock or sit on the dock and while away the afternoon reading. Or snoozing. And we have front row seats for the Northern Lights.
For so many years the cabin has been our haven, away from work, school and too-busy lives. Time slows down there. Priorities shift. Time slips away, but the cabin doesn’t change. We still treasure the simple existence it offers. I still get excited bumping over the dirt road as we approach that driveway yet again.
Those three little kids in the bunk beds are now grown and married and have produced five (almost six!) grandchildren for us. Carrying on the tradition, they have come to treasure their own family time at the cabin. It’s still just the right size for them.
It was their idea to celebrate this milestone. This Labor Day marked the 30th straight year we have gathered as a family with our good friends the Readingers and their offspring at the cabin. Admittedly, we had to farm a few members out to beds in nearby resorts this time, but they all converged on the cabin throughout the day. As Mya noticed.
Thirty years generates a lot of memories. Everything we did triggered flashbacks, smiles, rolling eyes, laughter. It was a weekend of déjà vu as grandchildren followed in their parents’ footsteps.
It was a celebration of friendship. Of lasting bonds that form over years of sharing, from being new parents to empty nesters. From being children to new parents. From carving out time away from work to relishing retirement. And through it all, we still relish cabin life.
We did our best to recreate some of the best moments. Some, like this one, came as a pure gift. Like a blessing on our gathering.
The remainder will have to wait for the next gathering, at the Same Time Next Year. And 30 years beyond.