Not everyone could make it to Christmas at the cottage this summer.
One of the missing persons was my baby sister.
I was a bit blue.
However, the world kept on spinning. Thus, the celebration began on a Wednesday afternoon as family from Louisville and Lodi began to arrive.
Not Lodi California. Lodi, Wisconsin. Although when it comes up on the juke box it is fun to belt out "Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again." No matter which Lodi you belong to.
A crockpot of an Italian recipe replaced the fifteen pounds of sloppy Joe's that did not return by popular demand.
The sky was blue, the boating was great, and a campfire crackled into the first night.
On Thursday I was chastised by the Oshkosh crew of two, since The Boathouse Bloody Mary Bar was not open on time for their arrival. However, that is where my aunt and cousin were hollering from, and they appeared to have been capable of taking care of business themselves.
By early afternoon our Middleton brothers and sisters were moving into their cabins.
The sky was blue.
The boating was great and there were sunburned noses to prove it.
My sweet Sven hung a pair of gold, silver and bronze medals from the driftwood attached to the boathouse that was next to the Christmas tree.
The clinking and clanking of washers hitting a can or bouncing off a wood box was in the air as people practiced for the upcoming championship.
A campfire crackled late into the night with a cake and candles, smiley face balloons and a box of expensive fancy wine gift wrapped to resemble a miniature waterbed, for Mimi's birthday.
On Friday morning after a visit home where I took a shower and did the Grandma and Tuna shuffle, which is not a dance, but more like a song and dance, called my life, which I will not go into right now, I was adorned with gifts atop the boathouse deck.
It is odd that only I receive presents for our Christmas in August, but, I am now the matriarch of the family, which is scary. And it just so happens that everyone who is feeling the spirit of giving pulls my name out of the hat. This year I wished for a Rhinestone Cowboy and was worried as soon as the words came out of my mouth.
For those who heard those words, all I can say is, "Wow!"
For those who did not and shopped free style, all I can say is, "Wow!"
Next year I am going to ask that in lieu of gifts, they donate to charity. That way they can take some crap out of their homes and dump it off at Saint Vinnies, rather than spend their hard-earned cash at said establishment. And that way I won't be modeling explicitly inappropriate t-shirts or redneck ones with cutoff sleeves. I won't be making a cucumber salad out of a freakishly large vegetable, and I will not have another bright green bedazzled cowboy hat to wear grocery shopping, or another black one for funerals.
The younger generation, as in the under thirty crowd, began pulling in as Friday afternoon came to a close along with all the blue skies and perfect boating weather.
A campfire crackled late into the night and into the morning, which came like a slap in the face the same way it did when I was a kid who spent all night holding seances, lifting girlfriends into the air with just two fingers each and asking the Ouija board who liked who, not wanting to be the first to fall sleep in case somebody was to stick my hand in a glass of warm water.
"Yikes," is what I said as I crawled out of bed.
And then, "Where is everybody?"
The place was like a ghost town.
According to my world, nothing makes a man prompter than a tee time. There happened to be nine tee times on Saturday morning.
I drove the three miles home to shower and to do the Tuna and Grandma shuffle, which if you must know, are two cats who don't see eye to eye, who rule my world.
I returned to the cottage in capris. The air was chilly, and the sun was nowhere to be seen.
"What time are we going to Duck Days?" was the text that came to my phone from cabin one.
We, who were not golfing had already missed the Susie the Duck Parade and would no longer be able to place bets as to where the horse poop was going to land, which had been a big selling point the night before around the fire.
An hour later my sister-in-law could be seen on a street in Lodi in front of the band playing the cowbell like she was born with one in her hand, and another other sister-in-law dancing between Marguerite and a man who jumped in with a tambourine. Supersticious, will never be the same.
Nobody from our group won the duck race cash prize.
Maybe next year.
Maybe next year I will buy a duck.
Mojito's came next.
The cottage was turned into a very impressive factory.
The Trailer Park Kings were playing outside three doors down for late afternoon entertainment before everyone disappeared inside for dinner.
And then, somehow, just like that, it was our last night, and we were all sitting around the fire.
Time had run out for an actual washer box tournament.
Brax was awarded a gold medal for being the best firewood guy we have ever had or even dreamed of, a most helpful kid, and the only dude who caught a fish out of the lot. He in turn was given the honor of handing out the other gold medal as well as the silver and bronze pair.
Pierre received the second gold medal because as Brax said, "He let me drive his pontoon boat and he took me fishing."
After the applause and cat calling died down, Kaden and Sean took home the silver, "for being my best cousin. And my other best cousin," said Brax, which immediately brought him a middle finger from his cousin Iris, who is headed to her second year of college. Iris then received a bronze medal for being his funniest cousin and her older sister Oceanne received the other bronze medal for being Brax's coolest cousin.
Well, it was prom night.
As tradition would have it, the real party starts after the dance ends.
And so it did.
I ALREADY HAD A RHINESTONE COWBOY.