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In my opinion


Why can’t a family beach trip just be about the beach and family?

By Tracy CurtisBy Tracy Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for making things overly complicated. But does going to the beach have to be one of them?

I would think that a trip to the beach would be the least complicated thing a family can do. What’s the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are?” Well, you’re at the BEACH. That should just be enough.

Now I admit it’s been awhile since I went with just my family to the beach. We’ve been doing all sorts of ramped-up combinations of people the past several years.

Last year, four of us moms took six kids to the beach. And we went to a place where we had two pools on the ocean next to a tiki bar. I have to admit it was pretty sweet.

For a few years, our family would meet another family down at the beach. They were three generations, and they had nine boys under the age of 12 with them. It was like summer camp at the beach for my two boys, and it was great fun for all the adults as well. They had a pool, a pontoon boat and a babysitter. Again, a slam dunk for all.

And before that, we used to get invited to an enormous complex that had a house, a separate pool house, a tennis court and basketball court, all right on the beach.

We’d be there with six other families, and one year had as many as 23 kids and adults. I was actually emailed a spreadsheet in advance detailing what days my family was responsible for a breakfast, lunch, dinner and a happy hour. We had so many people we actually had a treasure hunt, a talent show and a mini-Olympics, complete with splash contest, egg toss and shaving cream fight.

So imagine my kids’ surprise when I tell them that they’re going to the beach with me and their grandparents. No complex or pack of boys. No basketball court or talent show. No pontoon boat, babysitter, treasures or spreadsheets. Shaving cream will be for shaving and eggs for scrambling.

But we’ll have real quality time with family.

Because when do we ever get that anymore? We are always around a hundred people – at school and on the soccer fields, at church and at the pool and in the neighborhood, and at every social event and birthday party.

When is it ever just US? I want to walk on the beach as a family. Collect shells as a family. Boil and peel shrimp as a family. Swim, bike and play silly games as a family! We don’t need other people, fancy amenities or excessive activities. Why does a trip to the beach have to be enhanced?

Their eyes glaze over.

“We have a pool and there’s putt-putt down the street,” I confess.

Okay, they’re in.

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