I was lucky enough to take Friday off from work.
Originally, my wife and I had planned to travel to see my cousins who were encamped in Brigantine, a small seaside community just a dice's throw from Atlantic City. I seldom get to see family, and this was to be a rare gathering. Cousins were flying in from Boca, San Francisco and Santa Monica. There would be a dozen of us in all.
Unfortunately, at the last minute, my wife's jury-duty obligations extended an extra day. And rather than being able to getaway to the Jersey shore on Friday, and thus beat the always horrific traffic that clogs virtually every road in the tri-state area, we awoke at 5:30 Saturday morning and hit the road by 6:15.
As my cousin Howard said when we arrived at around 9, "I didn't know the Lincoln Tunnel was open that early going to New Jersey."
That's the kind of weekend it was in a nutshell. A wonderful cacophony of silly jokes, life-updates and rose-colored memories. Oh. And lots of eating, though there were times, almost inexplicably that we went as long as two hours without sitting down to a meal.
I grew up with virtually no family save for the people we visited this weekend. My father was estranged from his brothers and my mother was estranged from reality as well as her three sisters and one brother. So, I'll admit, I never knew the joys and travails of extended families. I never got to experience and enjoy the love and the nuttiness.
Over the years, thanks to the cousins I visited this weekend, I've gradually learned. Family doesn't come naturally to me, but I am learning, and, I suppose getting better at it. Proof of that is we played mini-golf. 11 of us.
Sadly, my kids weren't able to make it to the reunion. My eldest, Sarah, was at a gigantic convention of psychologists in Toronto, where she was presenting a paper she and a partner had worked on. And my youngest was off in the Grenadines somewhere, leading a dozen teenagers 100-feet underwater while teaching them how to scuba dive. Maybe next year.
There's a sickness in our industry now where we crave fictional outward signs of our success. Not only do we all seem to crave awards like addicts crave crack, we even get awards for winning awards.
They've never mattered to me, awards. I've yet to do an ad or a communication where I've given it less than my best. After that, you let the chips fall where they may.
The awards, or rewards, come from weekends like the one I just had.