Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Gathering

Newport Beach by day - 2008

Newport Beach by night - 2008

One of my favorite times of the year is rolling around again, second only to Christmas. It's our Newport Beach family reunion. My sister and I dreamed up this tradition 10 years ago because our children were getting older, and we wanted to be sure that at least once a year the entire family we grew up in (and the families we have made) would have a chance to reunite, rebond, and relax!

We chose a beachfront house close to the Balboa Pier because my husband's family had been going there forever, and we were already in the habit of visiting them once a year to enjoy their digs. In other words, my kids had already connected with the place, and we felt sure everyone else's kids would too.

Initially, most of my extended family booked units in the same 4-plex we rented. (One of my sisters lives in Huntington Beach, so she was already set). In those early days, we all stayed for the entire week, and it was great being at such close quarters for an extended period of time.

Later, as my immediate family grew, we had to move a block or so down the street, where we found an upstairs and downstairs combo with room for all. As my siblings' families got older, their accommodations and availability changed, too, but they have never failed to put aside at least a weekend to spend time with us, reuniting our entire family of origin and as many of the cousins as possible. And the grandparents (our parents) have continued to join us, too...for as long as they can stand the noise and another day or two!

What I love most of all is the chance to have every one of my children and grandchildren together for a full week with no distractions...not even a holiday celebration (although we do manage a couple of birthdays while we're there). We just play, talk, and after day and night after night. As always, both meaningful and superficial little traditions have developed: a family testimony meeting, a hotly contested basketball game, a visit to the tide pools, a food fest at Joe's Crab Shack, a burger and shake at Ruby's, a beachy circletime, a round of deep sea fishing, a visit to the local surf shop, a night at the Fun Zone, a bonfire and s'mores on the beach, a horseshoe tourney, a new kite to fly, a girl's morning out, and more. One of the things I like best is sitting out on the front porch at night listening to the ocean, watching all the people on the boardwalk go by and talking to people I love most about anything and everything that matters to us. There is literally nothing better than this.

The family is gathering. And life is good.


The greatest joy in life is found
where love and loyalty abound.
What sweeter sight...what dearer sound,
than all the family, gathered 'round?


Momza said...

Um, will you adopt me??

Jill said...

May you have a most wonderful time, and come back and tell us all about it.

karen said...

It all sounds wonderful! I've wanted to do something like that for a long time. It's difficult with blended families, but it's still one of my deepest desires. I'll need to do some serious talking to get L to want to participate, however. My family did much the same thing, only the gathering was in Palm Desert for a weekend. There are many happy memories - something I'd like to give my/our kids. Have a wonderful time!

Karen said...

We hit Ken's family reunion on the way back from Yellowstone and I love every minute (so do my kids)! We try to have this reunion every 18 months and I am always excited to get together.

Can I quote your poem on my blog about this reunion?

Thanks and Hugs

Carolyn said...

There's something magic about the beach. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

SnarkyMama said...

You are an envied woman...there is nothing I would enjoy more than to share an experience like that with the family I grew up in and our little family.

Our children and granchildren have only had one "gathering" where we all could be in one place at one time. For me, I have to agree with you, there is NOTHING on this planet I love more. Now that Snarky Belle is closer and other Little Brother and his family have moved back home, our gang will be certain to do so again and again!

Unfortunately, the family I grew up in, although still "close" when it is an event (some birthdays, major holidays, funerals, weddings, etc.) really does not make much of an effort anymore. I hate that for my 80 year old parents. Some of the children, children-in-law, and grandchildren are far more focused on "their" family they created rather than the people who started it all...

So, tonight know that I truly do envy your Newport Beach week! What a wonderful and cherished tradition...kudos to you and your sister for making it happen!

em said...

i've always wanted to go there. it seems so dreamy! "let's go to newport dear." doesn't that sound fancy? yes:-)

Heather Anderson said...

I feel so excited and ready when I read this post,,, now if my laundry was ready!

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