If someone were to ask me, I'd say that we still have a ways to go in this learning of family as a whole and as individuals
For thirty-eight years I have relished the few days of summer carved out to be with my family. Away from the normal spaces and tasks of life. We have shacked up in a variety of lodgings (most of them cheap...except for the few years some of us were making money) and whittled away the daily hours with all sorts of activities. There are, however, a few constants: a body of water (everything from the Atlantic Ocean to the St. Lawrence River to Stump Pond), a cornucopia of food (everything from steak and shrimp to hot dogs over the fire and, always, a macaroni salad), and hours upon hours of togetherness (thirty-eight years ago it was just me and my parents and now there are nineteen of us!)
At times, I think we have been guilty of idolizing this togetherness. Propping it up as a cardboard cut-out of giddy glee over top of hidden shame and dysfunction. I'm sure that in the next thirty-eight years that will occasionally be true again. For myself, I feel like I am in one of the healthiest places ever to genuinely enjoy this annual festival of our family --without hanging out at one or the other extreme of idolizing or despising.
That does not mean the temptation no longer exists. Even feel like a Jekyll and Hyde tug-of-war several times a day during the time that we are together. Happily, I find myself now more able to be present in the moment, aware of what I am feeling and why and free to enjoy the time as a whole person standing tall in the secure love of a perfect Father.
This togetherness marks us and marks our years. We remember vacations as the year Tami was eight months pregnant with Andrew or the year Ryan had to work in Virginia and couldn't join us or the year Wes' back was out and he had to lay on the floor most of the time. The very act of planning our times together marks our personal and family histories: do our activities accommodate the very pregnant? how can we afford a beach house when three of us have been out of work this year? what date will we pick that fits around the ebb and flow of work and travel and college schedules?
When we were little we planned our days around each other's soccer games and shower preferences. Now we discover we still have more to learn about compromise and selflessness. Coordinating the group to value three generations of individuals is a task of large proportions. Also a great joy.
. As a divine excuse to huddle in together outside the world and harsh reality. As a place to know and be known. As a place to honor and respect. Also laugh out loud at ourselves. Even if this glorious celebration of family each summer winds down to a beautiful meal under a picnic pavilion playing horseshoes, looking at aging photo albums and eating macaroni salad I hope it takes us at least another thirty-eight years to figure out what family
Father, please let the Hill family vacation always reflect lives soaked in prayer and centered in Jesus. Let us always keep in mind that we are flawed and allow us to laugh often and easily at ourselves and any creeping pretensions of "holiness." Please help us to trust always in letting ourselves be loved by God as more important than loving God in some kind of mechanical way. Please help our family to never distort the face of a beautiful God. (adapted from a prayer written by Brennan Manning)
This year was the year that...
- Lincoln learned to wave and say "hi" each time a new car drove into the campsite
- Griffin had to wear six band-aids on his toes after cutting them on the pool cement
- Macia and Ryan missed the first night because they were celebrating their one-year-anniversary-of-dating
- Dad and Mom had their new tent on the back of Dad's pickup truck
- The Philly Hills had just come back from their first trip to Disney World
- Alicia had to leave a day early to teach summer school
- Natalie slept under the bed of the camper during the thunderstorm. And Macia and Kendra slept in the Murphy's Tahoe.
- Kaley (aka Cha-Ching on a Shoe String) found us amazing $20 off coupons for $2 at Ithaca's Simeons.
- Uncle Brian spent hours driving the boat for us to tube and ski and swim in the lake.
- Wes got a call on Sunday afternoon that he had been accepted as the new youth pastor in Souderton. (and we toasted with wine that Alicia brought for the occasion)
- Alicia included FIVE Michael Jackson songs, TWO Highschool Musical songs, TWO Huey Lewis songs and ONE Jonas Brothers song on Travel Tunes 2009!!! (as well as far too many country tunes according to her nephews)
- AND -- oh, yes-- THIS WAS THE YEAR OF THRILLER!!!
(as in, remember the year Brian turned up his car stereo and a bunch of us did Thriller in that parking lot in Ithaca??)