03 Mar Slice of Life: The Gift of Reading #SOL18
Those who know me now might think I was always an avid reader. You might think I always had a book stack on my nightstand. You might picture me curled up with a good book on summer vacation. You probably think I always had a book at the ready to read whenever I had a spare moment.
Now, I am not saying I never read as a child or that my parents didn’t read to me, but my reading life did not truly begin until I was twenty-three years old. It all started with a vacation and a family tradition.
The vacation was to Cape Cod and the family was my future husband’s. He had gone to Cape Cod every year of his life. Three or four generations of family under one roof for two weeks, every year. Back when I joined the tradition, it truly was like a scene from Cynthia Rylant’s, When the Relatives Came
“The relatives weren’t particular about beds, which was good since there weren’t any extras, so a few squeezed in with us and the rest slept on the floor, some with their arms thrown over the closest person, or some with an arm across one person and a leg across another. It was different, going to sleep with all that new breathing in the house.”
I knew from the minute I arrived at his parent’s house in New York to leave for our trip, that this was not going to be like any vacation I had ever been on in my life…
“Ok. Everyone show what you have and then we can make a plan.”
I head toward the living room to see what is going on. I am surprised to see suitcases, bags, and boxes being unpacked since we are planning to get on the road in the next hour. The drive to Cape Cod is long and traffic on a Friday will be brutal. I take a closer look and see they are sorting books into piles.
“We can make a quick run to Barnes and Nobles before we head out.” his mom suggests.
“No, we should go to the library. It’s closer and I prefer the library.” his dad counters.
“They may not have the book we need. We are missing the third in this series and I want to read it.” his sister adds.
Now they break into a very strategic conversation that I am not completely following. Next thing I know we are headed to car … without our bags and suitcases. I look at my watch noting we are going to be off-schedule.
“What are we doing?” I whisper to Chris.
“We need a few books. Some of us are going to the library and some to the bookstore. What do you want to do?”
I ponder knowing that neither is the incorrect response. I figure the bookstore might have other stores near it and more options to for me to entertain myself while they get their books.
“Let’s go to the bookstore.”
I am relieved to see the store is part of a complex so I have options. I see a clothing store I like. I share my plan with Chris and we set a time to meet back at the car. As I veer off from the group, I hear my name.
“Clare, where are you going?” his mother asks.
“Oh, I am just going to pop into this store. I will meet you at the car.”
“You don’t have your books.” she continues.
“It’s ok. I’m all set.”
There is a pause. Everyone stops.
“We all bring books to Cape Cod. I would like to buy your books for the trip.” she offers politely, yet firmly.
I don’t want books, but I also don’t want to offend her. We are in a new relationship and we are about to spend the next week together. I hear my mother’s voice telling me not to be rude.
“Thank you. That would be nice.”
What happened as we walked through those doors changed the rest of my life – personally and professionally.
Twenty-five years later we are still planning this annual trip – now with grandkids, in-laws and first cousins once removed. Thank you, Mary, for not only being a great mother-in-law and nana but for giving me and my children the gift of reading. Happy Birthday! Clare
Four Generations of Reading on the Cape!
“And when they were finally home … they dreamed about the next summer.”
– adapted from Cynthia Rylant