It had been four years. Four busy, long years since I had sat in the same room with my daddy and my big brother. We had all seen each other separately now and then, but not once had the three of us gathered together.
Four years is much too long to stay scattered in three states, especially when there are little people with whom you want to share your family ties.
So last month, our families reunited. We drove south all day, and they flew southeast all day, and then we all drove east four more hours to the Ozarks. There ten of us gathered to enjoy the fall. One sweet and handsome nephew, who now towers over me at 6 foot-something, was unable to join us. We missed you, Devin!
My parents used to take my brother and me to the Ozarks to enjoy Silver Dollar City when we were kids. We’d ride the bright red train — which always gets held up by redneck outlaws part-way through the trip. We’d drink ice-cold Sarsaparilla, bounce crazy on the swinging bridge, and stumble our way through Grandpa’s House — laughing out our disfigured reflections. Then we’d eat far too much salt water taffy and come home with extra special treasures like shiny cap guns and floppy hand-made rag dolls with yellow yarn braids. Silver Dollar City is a wonderful place for making memories together no matter your age.
It’s hard to recapture old childhood memories, of course, but we created new ones as we all twirled in the tea cups.
The cousins stumbled across the swinging bridge together and made it safely to this spot near the flour mill.
Daddy somehow convinced me to ride some rides I know better than to ride. He’s a completely different person when he has to wear his ball cap backwards. Who knew?
Daddy and I were hamming it up — it’s just a kiddy-sized rollercoaster.
My brother’s family looked calm as they waved to the camera.
Later I followed Daddy onto this giant froggy ride with the girls, thinking it’d be a yawner since little kids usually ride it without adults. But no. Linnea and I somehow got the freakishly high-bouncing frog. Whoah, Froggy! Even my engineer husband later confirmed that our particular frog was mechanically off kilter. Or something technical like that.
Part of what makes Silver Dollar City so unique is the opportunity to learn up close how things were made in the 1800s. With glass-blowing, candy-making, candle-dipping, pottery-throwing, wood-working and blacksmithing craftsmen all strutting their stuff — the whole family can learn a lot!
The girls dipped candles in the hot, colored wax — making something special to bring home and add to their collection of treasures.
Families are a collection of treasures, too. It’s stressful when loved ones are scattered across the country, but I think you treasure them that much more when you are finally all gathered up in one special place. I’m so thankful for my daddy and my big brother and the memorable time we shared in the Ozarks. I love you!