"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Annual Visitation

Monday, December 13, 2004

Annual Visitation

The family visit went just as predicted. Well, almost. We decided to take advantage of a promotion at the Heathman Lodge so the kids could swim. Located near the Vancouver Mall, the Lodge is a suburban version of the rustic Quinault Lodge, which has the enormous advantage of being on Lake Quinault. Setting aside, all was excellent -- great food, comfy beds, nice pool -- until three in the morning. That's when the painfully loud bleating of the hotel's fire alarm propelled us out of bed and into the dark and damp. Fortunately there was no fire and we were soon back in bed. The next day, the Heathman not only gave us a refund, but breakfast and another night's stay. (We'll most certainly be back.)

I really enjoyed seeing my clan again. Many familiar faces, a few new ones. (Next year I will insist on name tags.) While our children are used to "passing the peace" in church, they were suddenly bashful and tried to hide in our shoulders. It wasn't long before they ran off to play, however. Ensconced at the dining room table, eating familiar food, surrounded by familiar faces, I felt such affection for my family. Watching their aged faces, hearing their wry comments, I felt a sense of time, gently sweeping us all along, carrying us away from each other and back again. All these different personalities and vocations and ideas, but we share in common a love of family.

After dinner my husband brought out the pinata we'd stuffed earlier at the hotel. In order of height, the children took turns whacking the paper star with a croquet mallet, which broke in two, to the delight of the little tough holding it. Eventually the goodies poured out and there was enough for everyone -- bubbles, toy cars, plastic sunglasses, bouncy balls, whoopie cushions, balloons, play-dough, markers. The children were SO well-behaved. Perhaps too well-behaved! Earlier, conversing with a group of girls upstairs (while our daughter jumped on the bed and sang about princesses), I was struck by how STILL they were, how demure, how alert. It was like pulling teeth to get someone, anyone, to say what she wanted for Christmas. Well, I was that way as a girl, too. Very self-conscious. May our daughter escape that burden even if (sigh) it is inconvenient for me. Jump away! Chatter away! Be silly and free!

Soon it was time to go. We were due at a local restaurant to celebrate a "wordly" nephew's birthday. It was an opportune moment -- the hymnals and scarves had not yet appeared. But I wished I could stay and sing, and catch up with each brother on their latest news. I hadn't learned the names of the all the new babies. I wanted the recipe of the pink jello salad that our daughter was lapping up. But we were running late, and although I was momentarily tempted to say individual goodbyes, in the OALC tradition (which can take a v-e-r-y long time), I sufficed with a few embraces and a Merry Christmas to all. "See you next year," I said.

Later at the restaurant, I was amused by the differences between the celebrations. Not as many as you'd think. Both featured babies, food and small talk. However, at the "worldly" one, we went on to discuss religion and politics and history and travel, moving easily from one to the other without fear of judgment or need for consensus. Oh, and there were other races present. Maybe those are pretty big differences?

No comments:

Post a Comment