It’s almost old news now but back in May I spent a week at the beach with a large group of family members, including my husband, sister-in-law, oldest daughter, her two kids and her daughter’s current boyfriend, and my youngest daughter, along with her husband and three small sons.
Three small boys playing at the beach
Let’s count – a husband, a sister-in-law, two daughters, a son-in-law, five grandchildren (two grown and three under the age of five) and one boyfriend. Yup, including me that’s twelve people. Fortunately it was a big beach house with more than enough room for everyone to sleep comfortably, but that’s still a lot of people.
Most years my husband and I do two kinds of beach trips. The late spring version with all of the family who can come, which is what this one was. In the fall, though, we do a quieter, just-us version, usually with just the two of us and my sister-in-law.
Need I say that they’re two completely different experiences even if the location remains the same?
A beach trip with the whole family is a riotous and noisy affair, filled with non-stop action, including a lot of time spent chasing after toddlers and playing with them in the sand. (None of the three small boys would go near the ocean. We had to get a small wading pool and fill it up in the yard of the house or on the beach but just below the dune to get them into water.)
Meals are huge and complicated as we juggle feeding small children and a horde of adults with different tastes and food preferences. Everyone pitches in to help, but the kitchen, while large, will only accommodate so many people at a time. But we’re fortunate to be a family that has good humor as the default setting and tends to take everything in stride.
On the other hand, our adults-only version is much of a restful and restorative experience. With just the three of us, there’s time for long walks on the beach, reading, sitting around staring at the ocean with a glass of wine in hand, more reading, some writing (for me), lingering over good food, and just unwinding. I come away from it refreshed and recharged.
Both are good times. Both include plenty of sand, surf, and good food. I’m grateful to have the opportunity for each.