“So we drove 20 hours to participate in a power outage?” I asked my husband, laughing. This is how we began our two-week summer vacation: playing a game of hearts by candlelight around the kitchen table while we waited for the power to come back on.
We make the pilgrimage 1000 miles north every summer to the family cottage on Round Lake in Ontario, Canada. A place created by my husband’s grandparents over sixty years ago. Where generations of family gather under cerulean blue sky, low hanging billowy clouds and play in water so silky, clean, and cool it makes the spa passé.
The house is outdated, inhabited by spiders – sometimes mice, and most of the time in need of some major repair. This year it was the hot water heater and barbecue. The cottage wouldn’t make the cover of Cottage Living but for generations of family members, the stories and memories it holds reads like a bestseller.
We engage in the recurring “if we won the lottery” conversation and dream about how we would improve things but the truth is, we live with things less than perfect because the only thing worse than not having things the way you want them is not having them at all.
As my kids follow their Dad outside holding buckets and flashlights, my mother-in-law and I giggle as they scoop water from the lake for middle of the night flushing – in case the power outage continues beyond the unthinkable. She smiles and comments, “we’re making memories.”
The best stories, the ones we tell for generations, come from moments and sometimes seasons of adversity or hardship. The way we respond in those moments determines the storyline.
Will our response be a story for people to share? Or despise?
I have heard the story of the red bathtub flying off a trailer into the woods at least once every visit to the cottage. I never met my husband’s grandfather, but each time someone tells the story about how he drove too fast around a curve, propelling the bathtub into a ravine, I wish I had.
The story always evokes laughter, and each time I hear it – along with dozens of other stories – I feel like I learn something about the way he lived his life. A hard working man full of faith and few words, concerned for the needs of others and generous with all he had.
Sitting in a warm, dark house wasn’t exactly what we were dreaming of as we drove those 1000 miles away from home. As it turns out, the unexpected inconvenience provides another chapter to entertain future generations. Like the red bathtub, I crawl into for a shower at the cottage every summer.
Sometimes things don’t unfold the way dream or plan. Maybe God has a better story to tell through us.
What is your story?
It does seem that the most unexpected situations make for the most memorable moments. The first year the boys were responsible to pack on their own (for some reason I didn’t actually look in the suitcases) we wound up in the middle of the ocean and they only had three pairs of underwear between them for seven days! I will never forget the $12 a pair for underwear!
Cheryl, that is hilarious! Thanks for sharing your story of the unexpected making memories. Made me laugh.