For our family, the August long weekend for many years meant a trip to my parents' cottage with the whole family. My parents, my grandparents, my brothers and their wives and kids; a great big boisterous mess of kids and cousins, beach towels and toys, too much food and too much drink and endless hours of sun and sand.
In recent years that tradition has changed since my parents sold both their cosy family cottage and their posh downtown harbourfront condo for an enormous, sprawling waterfront home up north - combining the best of both worlds for their retirement home. It's a beautiful home - and there's endless space to spread out and entertain and play - but it's not a family space like the old cottage was.
At the old cottage we all just headed up whenever with armloads of food and drink, we spend the day or the night or the weekend, we slept wherever we could fit. We spent the days drifting from the deck across the dunes to the beach and back, lounge chairs and plastic toys spread out across the sand, dozens of beach towels draped over the deck railings to be pulled down at a moment's notice after a dip in the hot tub or a dash into the lake. Late afternoons stretched into evenings as we lounged and cocktailed on the big, sun-baked deck, eating late and watching the sun set slowly over the water.
My parents' new place is their home. Designer-showroom-decorated (but not so kid-friendly-comfy), waterfront and harbour views (but not on a sandy beach), lots of space and extra rooms (but guest rooms, not family bedrooms) - their home, not the family cottage. Their home, not a comfortable, communal hangout we all share memories of. It's just not the same.
But the family cottage is no more, so this long weekend we packed up our family and headed up north to my parents' place for a visit - just us, no brothers and sisters-in-law, no nieces and nephews, no big boisterous family party.
It was different, but it was still nice.
Long walks up and down the pier, leisurely meals on the patio watching the sailboats out in the bay. A long boat ride across the lake, a picnic lunch and a swim off the diving platform anchored in a sandy cove. A slumber party, all three boys choosing to sleep together on the pull-out sofa bed in the alcove over the living room with windows looking out on the water rather than the enormous children's room with more than enough beds for everyone.
It was different, and with only two days off soccer for our mid-summer break, it was brief - but for a little long weekend getaway, it was nice.