Moving forward, then!
Honored family members, council people, ladies, gentlemen, and representatives of the commercial media, we are now all faced with the most important question of the age.
And that is: What is the extended Whiteside Family going to do now that Camp Maddox has been sold? Now that we have been deprived of - if not our past - our ancestral stomping grounds, the physicality of our memory, our tradition, how are we going to face the future? Looking forward, many difficult and painful decisions loom, and the upcoming summer, as it now appears, with its brutal dry heat, or chilling mountain winds (depending on our choice of venue), offers no relief, and will not regain us our cherished Camp Maddox. But I have no fear that the members of this strong family will put aside their differences so that we may come together and face this challenge united.
I am confident, that when we look back on the Summer of 2005, we will look back with pride. For though we have sustained a heavy blow, and the Black Sale of November 2004 hangs heavy on our hearts, we will know that we found the strength to soldier on. In the months ahead, we must not - and we shall not - fail to vacation as a large extended family!
Though today, looking at all your gathered faces, I am, in my heart, certain that we will emerge victorious, we still remain with our daily toil to overcome our loss, and to rebuild. In recent weeks and months, there has been a near-unanimous call for an alternative conjunctive activity to help us get through the period of bereavement at this tragedy. Preferences have been expressed that this 'get-together' happen in the summer time-frame, approximating the traditional dates reserved for our annual appointment at CM.
I would prefer that we not think of this time frame as a time of mourning the anniversary of our loss, but rather, as the most convenient time for a renewed celebration of our lives together. For though we may never again hear the crickets, frogs, bubbling brook, or the other characteristic miscellaneous noises of the Texas hill-country, we have not been exiled from the sounds of badminton 'pings', beatboxing, Sallie Bearden's grand laughter, or, dare i say it, the rattle of wooden cubes in a plastic 'boggle' box.
And though we may have been exiled from the location where our memories were formed - the location where I myself swam my first laps - we have not been exiled from our memories themselves, which can never be taken from us. Indeed, we maintain to this day our most important treasures, out of which our memories all were fashioned - our family, and our (as yet unformed) dreams for the future. We will carry Camp Maddox in our hearts as we, as a family once again, convert whichever-dream-we-decide-on into deeds, and then, later, into developed photographs in boxes in the TV room. Also, we will convert those dreams into new memories too.
Yes! Once this new vision is in place, not ankle-chains nor creeping credit-debt can hold us back. Nay! Mere conceptualization, logistics, actualization, and incidental expenses keep us from the realization of a dream. Family Vacation Planners of 2005, hear my call!
Though today we step into new territory, planning a family vacation unlike any we have planned before, this new territory is not altogether unfamiliar. We all remember Culebra. And many of us experienced together the red convertible bus in Canada, not to mention bears in California, and a certain dreaded ferry in Alaska.
Today we take another journey into the unknown, pausing to remember Camp Maddox, but also to take heed of failed vacations in the past. We will learn from our hallowed traditions and also the fiascoes of legend.
Let us begin the planning with renewed vigor. To that end, I will start by elucidating our goals, as I see them, and as they have been conveyed to me in the past months.
Accommodate a wide range of maneuverabilities.
Be in close proximity to diverse diversions of some class.
House up to 13 people for as long as a week.
Be able to cook for ourselves/have a kitchen.
Coordinate divergent schedules.
Place ourselves in relation to the wondrous outdoors.
Begin to brainstorm as a group.
We MUST NOT:
Fail to come together.
Overburden any one among us with this task.
Recreate tense environments, either through under-planning, or over-planning.
At our disposal we have:
The will to survive (as a family-vacationing unit).
Re: date of vacation
David R. "Doc" Bearden has suggested that limitations on his schedule are perhaps some of the most restrictive. Only at certain times is it possible for him to break away from his training. Precise dates shall be forthcoming. I suggest we heed his request, as, to my knowledge, not one other among us has as full a calendar. However, I also suggest that we select the later of his suggested dates, as that will allow Alicia I. Michels to enjoy the fruition of Mexico, as well as allowing the
remainder of us to more fully consider our options before V-day.
Re: location of vacation
Mary Ellen Whiteside has suggested locations near our homeland as the site for future vacations. Namely, she has suggested a similar cottage in the Texas Hill Country. It is my view that this would exacerbate injury by daily recalling, in vivid detail, the terms of our exile. Some day we may return to Camp Maddox, but not, I say, as sniveling neighbors, but triumphantly!
Alicia I. Michels has suggested cabins in Montana(?).
Aaron B. Michels has again suggested Cuba, and Mexico.
Jessica Weston Watson (who, it appears, will not be able to attend this year), has suggested a South Carolina beach house (like her family goes to), or a group of cabins on Key West.
Wanda S. Michels at one point suggested Ireland, but it has come to our attention that cobbled streets do not meet our requirements for maneuverability.
Sallie Bearden has suggested that Carrie Beard-osso find another place like she did when she found Culebra because Carrie is really good at computers. In point of fact, Sallie Bearden is not alone in this. Many of us have suggested that someone-else-who-is-not-so-busy look for better options than we have isolated to date. This suggestion has most often been summarily rejected by comments such as "Why me?" and "I'm not that good at computers, really". This suggestion has also occasionally been met with the comment, "oh, come now, Carrie, you are too! (good at computers, that is). And I'm sure you've got a lot of time, what with baking pies, and Zack, and brain-scan technology, and all."
Others, I am sure, have made suggestions that have not been widely distributed.
There has been some discussion of a joint letter that we may pen to the new owners of our ancestral grounds. To this, I will lend my support, such as it is, and encourage the project to move forward.
If nothing else, I hope that this missive has served to "open the dialogue" on these important issues of our time. I implore you, my readers, my family, to continue this dialogue in your personal lives, in your workplaces, and, most of all, through use of the "Reply All" button in your email client and/or web-browser.
I hope you remain in good spirits, and I await your swift reply. Always, we shall - Remember (our sacred place near) the Alamo!
Aaron Brady Michels