Bryan lives for our summer vacation week in Avalon, New Jersey. He has spent this shore week with his family for forty years, ever since he was a tiny three-month-old, snuggled up under a beach umbrella in his little portable crib.
As Bryan grew, each year new traditions were forged and enjoyed. Building sand castles, burying Dad in the sand, flying kites and playing with his “men” (action figures) comprised his childhood beach routine.
Eventually, these activities morphed into listening to music, reading books and writing in endless sandy notebooks full of prayers and “stories”.
Some traditions have never gone away, though. Ever since the Diaper Days, Bryan has spent most of his beach time in the ocean – wading, splashing others, and body surfing the waves no matter how cold the water may be. It’s not a good beach day unless he emerges looking like a prune.
Yahtzee games at lunch and nightly runs for ice cream have been in place for some twenty-five years. If the family decides that it’s not into ice cream, a disgruntled Bryan lets us know he’s not a happy camper.
About ten years ago, Bryan and his Uncle Dick started a tradition of the “B and D” restaurant. Because the two of them share an intense love for all things consumable, Bryan and Dick would be the first hungry ones coming off the beach early to set up lunch for the rest of the family. Once the name of the “B and D” became legendary, I purchased matching navy blue aprons embroidered with kelly green ‘B & D’ lettering which are now worn at every lunch by the two “chefs”.
One of us, while on the beach, will receive a phone call from Bryan to let us know the B & D is ready for customers. Once arrived at our beach house, we are met by aproned Bryan, tea towel slung over his forearm – the other arm extended for me to link and be escorted to my luncheon table. Oh, how he loves the pageantry!
His first traditional “act” though, following his first-day breakfast of a light and fluffy sausage and cheese omelet, is to head down to the shoreline and enact and quote lines from one of his favorite Mel Brooks movies, “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”. He kneels in the sand, arms outstretched, pretending to be Robin (Care Elwes) proclaiming – “Home! Home! England! Ah!” after which he does a face plant in the sand, kisses the beach and sputters the sand out of his mouth. The reenactment (see below) is dead-on and hilarious. Look it up on YouTube. Every. Single. Year. we witness this display.
Call it what you will – O.C.D. or tradition, Bryan loves his yearly summer beach vacation made extra-special by many years of family togetherness and wonderful, traditional memories.