The Lodge

January 11, 2011
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After the three hour car trip, a couple of restroom breaks for those who had not yet learned to go before we departed, and tons of junk food consumed to keep impatient teenagers full and happy we had finally arrived. We had made it to the most beloved place where no one ever wants to leave. My family and I were at the Bates Lodge.

Pulling into the drive, I notice that once again we are the first to arrive. This is no surprise since we are the only family with no job or public school commitments that interfere with the weekend away. As we drive up towards the door to unload I remember how big the driveway appeared when I was younger, yet now we can barely fit all of the cars in it.

Stepping out of the car I give my legs a minute to remember what it feels like to stand on solid ground then I look up at the beautiful lodge. When I say lodge I do not mean some cabin in the woods with one or two bedrooms. This “lodge” happens to be a multi-million dollar house owned by a church. Both the church and the house sit overlooking Lake WaWaSi. When I was a little kid this house seemed like a castle. At almost 18 years of age, however, it was just another building and I was used to its grand appearance.

Noticing my siblings already unloading, I grab the pop and make my way to the snow-covered porch that will serve as the beverage refrigerator. I then start grabbing suitcases and bedding and make my way into the entryway. I notice how roomy the entryway is and ponder how quickly it crowds with sixty pairs of shoes.

Entering the grand hall, or living room, I notice the deafening silence. I laugh out loud and then giggle thinking that this may be the only time I hear myself think all weekend. Walking over to set games in the game corner I remember that the last time I saw Great-Grandma alive was in this corner. We were listening to family memories as Great-Grandpa passed out some of her jewelry that she did not wear anymore. Two months later we were back up north for her funeral after the dementia took her home to be with the Lord.

Snapping back to the present I notice the kitchen, completely empty. Funny how empty it is now considering by tonight it will be packed full of food and family members making dinner for everyone. I can not wait for the wonderful aroma that will soon fill this room as Aunt Sue makes pizza for supper. I can taste it already.

Turning the other direction I see the wall of glass doors leading to the back porch overlooking the lake. Hopefully the lake will be frozen enough for all of us cousins to walk on. Remembering the wind nipping at my nose and the sound of the ice crunching beneath my feet from the few times we have gone out, I am filled with anticipation.

Making my way towards the stairs with my luggage I walk into the fireplace room. Soon Uncle Don will have the fire roaring to life. As a little girl, I remember sitting at the top of the stairs in the morning until I was sure I could smell the fire. That was the sign that Great-Grandpa was up and it was safe to go down. I remember later in the day taking a timeout from hide-and-seek while the guys were on break from watching football so we could take family pictures. It surprises me that cousin Stephanie and I used to be small enough to sit on the mantle. This year we will have to take the pictures on the stairs since we are all to big for the mantle seat.

Setting the luggage down in the room we will call home for the weekend I laugh because most likely Mom will be the only one to actually sleep in here. The rest of us will crash downstairs on the couch after talking till four or five in the morning. I walk back and forth down the hallway looking in each room. I see Aunt Sue and Uncle Phil’s room where many haunted houses have been held. I peer in Brett and Becca’s room with the entrance to the attic which I am sure will come in handy for hide-and-seek later. Aunt Michelle’s room is next to ours and is always the room where we love to talk instead of seeking during games. Looking over the landing I can not help but check to see it the post we broke all those years ago is still loose. It is.

As I make my way back downstairs I hear Mom call that someone is here and we need to help carry. I head towards the door looking back on memories from years past and then forward to what this year will hold. The Bates Lodge may not be everyone’s most beloved place. However, to those who hold claim to the Bates name, this weekend together is always the best Christmas ever.

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