Festibond 2013 was, as expected, wonderful. Our family tradition has evolved over the years. We always discuss what works and what doesn’t, and everybody has an opportunity to suggest improvements. The biggest difference this year from prior Festibond celebrations was the venue: we stayed at a hotel instead of being at home. Jenna wanted to go somewhere, probably warm and exotic, and I just wanted to get away from our cramped apartment. I suggested we get a nice hotel in the area where we could swim and relax and not worry about things. It was, I must say, a brilliant plan.
As we have since our first Festibond in 2007, Kirsten and I each took the girls on dates in the days leading up to our day-long family celebration. I took Hayley ice skating, Jenna bowling, and Skye to a stand-up comedy performance.
On the morning of December 29, we all went to breakfast at Sea Dog Brewing Company in South Portland. It was, unfortunately, disappointing. The conversation was good and we enjoyed each other’s company, but the food was awful. After breakfast we stopped at Toys-R-Us to get a few board games before checking into our room at the Marriott at Sable Oaks. Once we were situated, we sat on the beds and read, in turn, our letters to each other. Skye went first, followed by Hayley, Jenna, me, and finally Kirsten.
Writing and reading aloud letters is a tradition that’s endured since the beginning. Every year–possibly due to the girls getting older and expectations higher–the letters improve in both length and quality. I was very impressed this year with the amount of time each of the girls put into their letters. They were heartfelt, thoughtful, and sincere. After each letter is read, the reader and the person the letter is to embrace. The love we have for each other and our family unit during that activity is palpable. Family bonds are strengthened, which is the point. We smile, we laugh, and sometimes we cry.
After the letters had all been read, we each got into our swimsuits, grabbed a towel, and headed to the pool. Skye is a confident swimmer, but Jenna and Hayley haven’t spent a lot of time in the water and were a bit apprehensive, but determined to learn. They would float on their backs for long periods and increase the distances they could dog paddle in a corner of the deep end. After a short time they were both crossing the pool. It wasn’t pretty, but they were excited for their accomplishment, and so was I. We alternated between lounging on the deck, swimming in the pool, and soaking in the hot tub. It was much better than hanging out at our apartment.
Following our time in the pool, we headed back to our room for snacks and games. Kirsten brought a smorgasbord for our enjoyment, consisting of meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, crackers, cookies, and homemade fudge. We grazed on the goodies while we played Monopoly and Yahtzee.
The following morning I drove from the hotel directly to my office in Portland. When the girls awoke, they took advantage of a late checkout time to get in another swim practice. Festibond 2013 was a huge success. We strengthened the various relationships in our family, and the bond we share as a unit. As is the case after every Festibond, I’m very excited to do it all again this year.
If you’re wondering “What is Festibond?”, read this:
Brent Danley, brentdanley.com, December 25, 2007