Now that I'm preparing to start a family of my own, I'm beginning to appreciate the family I've had all along a little more.
If you would have asked me 10, maybe even five, years ago if I was interested in participating in a family vacation, I would have scoffed at the notion. I probably would have replied something along the lines of "Yeah, right - I go on vacation to get AWAY from these people."
But the truth is, I don't get to spend a whole lot of time with "these people" anymore since moving out of town. And I'm not just talking about immediate family; visits with aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and their significant others are all few and far between anymore.
Sure, there are the classic holidays, but as we all grow older, not everybody can make it to all the family functions. That's just life. People get married, get new jobs and don't have the vacation time to travel. But some people find an excuse to pack up and go to Jamaica for Christmas.
Hey, we had our reasons. And, oh, what a jammin' holiday it was. Ya mon.
To get back to the point, I recently took my family up on their invitation to join the annual beach vacation in Sea Isle City, N.J. Most of my mom's side of the family takes the yearly trip in September shortly after Labor Day.
Since we're now only about an hour or so from the shore, and had a vacation day or two to play around with, we decided to make it a long weekend at the beach.
Despite packing extremely poorly (I forgot to pack sunscreen, beach towels and a swim suit ... for a beach trip), we were soon in a carefree state of mind with our feet buried in the sand.
It's a funny thing spending an extended amount of time with family members you've been close with since diapers.
I've always shared a connection with cousins that stems from childhood, when life was as easy as playing "hide and go seek" in our grandparents' yard. But as adults, things have changed; we get to learn the types of people we've become in life. Everything from the partners we've chosen to spend the rest of our lives with to our professional dreams and aspirations.
Plus, the relationships with the "adults" change, too. The aunts, uncles and grandparents that were once like secondary parental figures suddenly become more like friends. Suddenly, they're just good people that you can share a couple drinks with and laugh over a cheesy board game.
For me, those are relationships I hope to keep strong over the years. There's an old Spanish proverb that "an ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship." I understand the idea behind this proverb, but I'm not sure if I necessarily agree with it.
In fact, I think it's much more fulfilling when family and friendship become one.
Beardsley, a native of Loyalsock Township, is a former Sun-Gazette reporter. His column is published on the third Sunday of each month. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.