Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Don't you just love this time of year? Time for hot apple cider, The Great Pumpkin on TV, pumpkin spice lattes, and my very favorite: cute, costumed children ringing my doorbell and demanding candy!  LOVE IT!!

Now I have a new reason to love Halloween!  You may remember that in an earlier entry, I posted a video made by the acapella singing group "The Blanks," featured on the TV show, "Scrubs."  They're my friends from college, and I just couldn't be more proud of them!

Well, my awesome, talented friends have just released a new video, just in time for Halloween!  It's wonderfully silly, just like them!  Grab some apple cider, sit down, push "play," and enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dad's Key to Joy

Every June, at the conclusion of the school year, my Dad and several of his fellow teacher buddies would load their cars with fishing poles, burgers, buns, beer (Pepsi for Dad), and flannel shirts. They'd hitch up their boats and caravan for ten hours, through Erie, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York, over the Peace Bridge to a small marina located on the Key River in Ontario, Canada.

There they'd park their cars, jump in their boats and ride seven more miles down the bendy, gorgeous waterway to a small cabin owned by one of the teachers, Mr. Barrett. They'd spend a week fishing, eating, singing oldies around the kitchen table, fishing, laughing, pulling pranks on each other, and fishing some more.  It was a wonderful tradition, and one they kept up for several years.  They even made t-shirts emblazoned with their self-appointed name:  The June Crew.

Dad anticipated that week all year long, and always returned home from the trip relaxed and happy.  Mr. Barrett was generous enough to invite our entire family up to the cabin each August, so we got a chance to see this magical place for ourselves.  We have many, many happy memories of fishing and swimming along the rocky shore of that glorious Key River, and I'll never forget them.  But deep down, I think I always knew that Dad had MUCH more fun when he was there with The June Crew at the close of every school year.

So you can imagine my delight when my sister Laura sent each of her siblings a DVD last week, copied from a video she found when going through Dad's things.  It was titled "June Crew.  June 8th, 1990."  I popped in the disc and held my breath as the image of happy, smiling men loading their boat at the Key River Marina appeared.  I recognized them all immediately as my Dad's dear friends and fellow educators.

Two things became apparent immediately.  The first was you never saw my Dad.  He was constantly behind the camera, talking to whomever he was taping at the time. The second was that you could hear my Dad's voice distinctly, and I've never heard him sound so happy.  He laughed constantly, even appearing to giggle in some places.

It's important to remind you here that my father was a constant worrier. From the days of his youth when he was forced to pick up the slack for his alcoholic father, to his adult years raising his own large family, Dad fretted about EVERYTHING.  He worried about money and about the safety and purity of his children.   He was constantly imagining he "smelled smoke" in the house and kept all the doors locked at all times, even though we lived in the middle of nowhere on a quiet cul de sac.  He was always, always tense.  Except for that one week in June.

As he followed the men loading their boats and mugging for the camera, the anticipation in Dad's voice is unmistakable.  He asks them dumb, silly questions, like, "Are we gonna catch a lot of fish on this trip?"  When the inevitable reply was, "You betcha!" he'd laugh and yell back, "Atta boy!"

As I watched the DVD from start to finish, wiping a tear away at some particularly sweet moments, a thought occurred to me.  I don't know if I've ever been as happy as my Dad sounded on that tape.  I've been in some great places with gorgeous scenery, with awesome company, but I'm not sure if my voice has ever sounded as exuberant and giddy as Dad's did as he rode on his friend's boat down that Key River.  I'm so grateful he had that week every year.

How about you?  Do you have a place that makes you deliriously joyful?  Do you have a yearly gathering with friends or family that you anticipate, and never disappoints?  Oh, I hope so!  Everyone, at some point, should sound like Dad did on that tape.  It's my wish for you today.  I hope you find a place that you can share with the people you love the most in this world.  A place that makes you relax and smile, but also invigorates and inspires you!

If you've already found that place, will you tell me about it now? I'd LOVE to hear about it! And as always,

Thanks for Reading!!