Traditions of the Beach

December 21, 2010
“You mean it is not going to be the five of us this year?” I asked in confusion as my mom relayed the news to me that her and my father’s two friends and their three children were coming with us on vacation to New Jersey. It had always been the five of us, no other people. To me at the age of eight, this was going to ruin my family vacation. “What if they do not like doing the same activities as us?” I liked how my vacation already was, enjoying our time on the fine powdery, blue water beach. I was worried that my brother was going to leave and spend time with their son Tyler, who he was friends with, and worried my sister was going to leave and spend time with the other son Jon; I did not want my siblings to leave me on our family vacation. After all, it was supposed to be a “family” vacation. Having a total of ten people on the vacation would create conflicts with group mini golfing—you cannot have ten people all mini golfing together, we would have to split up. My parent’s friends coming to New Jersey with us meant change.

Every summer since before I was even born, my family has been going to the New Jersey shoreline. It all started when my mother’s parents brought their children. My mom and dad continue with the tradition by taking my sister, brother, and me. Each year I look forward to the early morning bike rides, staying at the beach until late afternoon, walking the boardwalk, and going on rides until they close down for the night. Although when my siblings and I were younger, we would not stay out as late, but it still felt late as a child. Until I was nine years old, I was afraid to ride a bike so I road a two seat bike with my dad. “You’re too old for that baby bike, you should ride a real one by yourself,” my siblings teased me, but I liked riding that bike with my dad; I knew I would not fall. My dad and I would maneuver through the boardwalk and taking a detour through the pier with the rides as the sunny morning started to fill the beach with vacationers. But once I was nine years old, it was time to ride my own bike.

Over the years, my vacation has been changing. When I was eight, that was when my parents’ friends starting coming with us for about six years. With new people came different traditions. I no longer had to go on amusement rides by myself. Their youngest child, Dominic, is about five years younger than I so we went on similar rides. Unlike my brother and sister, he also did not like the bigger roller coasters. Then my vacation changed again. When I was fifteen years old, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He could not be in the sun for long periods of time; “It does not sit well with the chemotherapy treatments,” he told my family. That year my dad and brother (who had to work) stayed home. Since only my mom, sister, and I went on vacation we decided to go Ocean City, somewhere closer, than our usual Wildwood. Without my dad, no one was there to teach me how to boogie-board in the ocean. Without my brother, no one was there to play Frisbee with me. Without two-fifths of my family that year, it definitely was different and I had to deal with the absent traditions, but we still had fun, and since that trip when I was fifteen, we had been going to Ocean City ever since. This past year our trip has had another alteration; my sister’s boyfriend came with us, along with my parents’ friends again. My brother and sister’s boyfriend shared a room together. Ever since I was born and started going, all of my family had stayed in the same motel room, but not this past year, and possibly the years to come establishing another small change to my family tradition. It paves the way for new traditions to be developed in the future when my siblings and I bring our new families on vacation and we all have to get separate rooms.

Despite all these modifications to our annual family vacation, the beach has still been there. It may be another beach at a different part of New Jersey, but it is still the same beach that I love—the same beach with the fine powdery sand, the crashing waves, and the relaxing sunlight. The new traditions create different stories and memories to keep, along with the old ones. From all the changes to my vacation I have dealt with over the years, I have realized that I tend to hesitate toward change. I see how fun one variation to an event, like a vacation, is and I want it to stay that way. I like tradition but can deal with change and now know when and how to move on, like when it was time for me to start riding my own bike. I can deal with change by looking forward to new traditions that can be created. Just like all the changes to my vacation in New Jersey, another change is in order for me. As I prepare myself for college, it is time to leave the Clinton school system, the only school system I have attended, and head off to college to prepare myself for my future and create more everlasting memories and new traditions of my own. In college, I will use my ability to deal with change when it is time for me to be on my own—no more mom to drive me to school. As an architect, I will constantly have to deal with change by moving from project to project, new building to new building. But just like I have created new traditions and dealt with change at New Jersey, it will follow me through my future.

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