My July 4th celebration this year was like Mary Poppins - practically perfect in every way. The only thing wrong with it was that it had to end. Too soon. Family gatherings that are this fun can be bittersweet when they are few and far between.
My husband says that I'm a chronic whiner. He then adds the caveat that "it's ok" because my hometown breeds them, and for the most part, it's out of my control. He's right. Instead of dwelling on the inevitable months and years that will pass before such a celebration as this happens again, I need to instead smile at the memories. Sometimes, it's easier said than done ..
Once upon a time, we all lived in the western half of New York State. My generation stayed here and raised our kids here. My brother married into an extremely likeable family. Everything was an excuse for a party. In addition to the usual holidays, there were Super Bowl parties, birthdays and huge family vacations in places like the Outer Banks, Myrtle Beach and the Adirondacks. There was never any question that we all wanted to share significant events together. For a few summers, my sister-in-law's parents rented a cottage at Crystal Beach, and we would all pile over the border and enjoy the beach and company. On one such adventure, the one and only toilet backed up. It was a Sunday in Canada. Faced with the prospect of hours without this vital piece of modern plumbing, we could have gone home but instead we chose to make multiple trips to Tim Hortons where I felt obligated to buy something every time I used their restrooms. I ended up feeling like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. At the time, I'm sure we all felt that our "styles were cramped" considerably, but right now I'd love to go back in time and re-live that weekend.
Two things happened that signaled the end of this era - the aging of my parents' generation, and the migration of my brother's kids to North Carolina. Gradually, the "events" became fewer and farther between. When my brother's oldest grandchild was diagnosed with kidney disease, he began spending more and more time in North Carolina. Conversely, they rarely ventured north. Everything that we had taken for granted became an occasional luxury to be savored and cherished. Late last year, we lost my brother's grandson - my great-nephew. It was a pain that was so sharp, so big... yes, that's what it was - BIG PAIN. Big, all-consuming, heart-squeezing pain. After his funeral, we all sat around bemoaning the fact that we had gone our separate ways. We talked about the week-long family vacations of the old days and how we should revive that tradition at least once. In the middle of the sorrow shone a glimmer of hope that something good might come from this.
We had determined that there was one or two weeks in August this year that would work for just about everyone, and vacation houses in Myrtle Beach were usually reasonable in August. For whatever reason, it never came to be. I had saved most of my precious and few vacation days, but it seemed that the enthusiasm of the moment back in December had faded. None of the movers and shakers who had planned these vacations in the past wanted to "make it happen". So, July 4th it would be. No more than that. Six hours. The reality is that I could have fashioned myself into a new mover and shaker. I didn't. Truth be told, I feared rejection, and perhaps my fear was justified. If my brother had wanted it to happen, it would have happened - with or without me. He is that kind of larger than life person. The larger than life kind of person that I could never be.
So.... I am back to the fact that I'm a whiner. Sitting here feeling sorry for myself. Tomorrow I begin the affirmation challenge and the clean eating challenge. My belief is that they will go hand in hand in overhauling my mental and physical condition. And then I need to figure out how to stop dwelling on the past and, instead, looking forward to the rest of my life.