Hello, world! I’m home!
The family and I spent nine days visiting with friends and relatives throughout the Midwest. I call this trek our annual Midwestern Tour, as we hit Illinois, Indiana and Michigan in the same week. This time of year the area where I grew up is amazingly beautiful. You wouldn’t believe how green everything gets. Even the corn fields look beautiful when I haven’t seen them in a while.
We spent the first couple of days in Chicago, then drove south to central Illinois to visit my grandmother. We then drove three hours north through Indiana and Michigan to reach my mother, other grandmother and various relatives who live in the area. It was fast, organized, exhausting and incredibly fun.
Here’s the highlight reel…
While in Chicago, my college friend hosted a house party and invited all of our girlfriends from school, along with their families. We BBQ, drink, laugh and relive our glory years together while our kids run around and make new memories and form new friendships. This year the adults sent the kids to the basement to play so we could play the game, Cards Against Humanity. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an adult card game of mostly vulgar and inappropriate topics. If you’re not too uptight and appreciate a dirty joke, then this game is for you. I will say that I did surprisingly well in the game, and my two most popular cards read, “Altar Boys,” and “Two Midgets Shitting in a Bucket.” Feel free to use your imagination here as to what these cards may have been in response too. 🙂
We visited my grandmother, who is 94 years old. I’ve always had a very close relationship with my Nanny and she’s an incredible woman. She is in amazing health but starting to lose some of her short-term memory. We looked at the same photo album about four times, and although it was new for her every time, I continue to be amazed at her ability to remember details about family history from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Her own mother was born in 1897, and every conversation feels like a history lesson, but one you don’t want to miss. When I ask her how it feels to be 94, she tells me, “getting old is not for sissies!”While in Michigan, we visited with several of my high school friends, my mother, grandmother, aunt and a few cousins. I went to my favorite childhood restaurants. We drove to St. Joe and took the kids to Silver Beach, which is on Lake Michigan. My kids ran down the pier alongside the lighthouse, disbelieving that Lake Michigan wasn’t as big as our Pacific Ocean back home. I found a lake house there I would like to buy for the low, low price of 1.6 million dollars. What a steal! LOL! At one point Bryn looked at me, while having dinner outside on a patio overlooking a beautiful lake active with boats and jet-skis, and she said, “I can’t believe you got to grow up here!”
Yeah, I got to grow up there. It’s funny how so often in life we don’t appreciate what we have until we can look back with some perspective. Growing up, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of the fields, the lakes or the small community that looked out for each other. I took it for granted and was more excited to see other places. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the older I get, the more I appreciate where I come from, and this annual trip means more to me every year. I want my kids to experience the things I loved about growing up in the Midwest. Admittedly, my kids have opportunities that I never had as a child, and I’m thankful for that. But I also want them to appreciate the simplicities of life. The small things and traditions that add up to big things when you look back on your life and remember what you loved most about your childhood.
I want them to gorge themselves on strawberries while picking them fresh from the fields, and then bring the berries home to make fresh strawberry jam in grandma’s kitchen. I want them to canoe the rivers of my hometown and camp under the stars, even if it’s just in their grandmother’s back yard. I want them to catch fire flies, sit around a bonfire in a field with their cousins, learn to water ski on the lake and marvel at the incredible beauty of the leaves turning in the fall. I want them to know who their people are, and why, no matter what they choose to do in life, it will always be special that their family comes from this incredible place.
So yeah, it was a good vacation. 😉