The Magic Room By Jeralyn Lash-Sands
Weeks before, their boisterous anticipation balloons like an inflated beach ball bouncing back and forth. I often chuckle while listening to their impatient and repetitive questions. “Grandma,” they utter, “what magic will there be this year at The Grandma’s Country Beach House?” While I try to suppress the inevitable laughter that follows, I reply, ‘I dunno,’ and suggest that they wait and see. My stingy offering is tenaciously followed by an earful of crestfallen sighs. And as I hold the cell and inadvertently roll my eyes, I too wonder – What will the magic be?
The hoopla – the magic that they earnestly badger me about was fortuitously launched six years ago. However, if I took pen to paper and traced the origin, I’d venture that it truly started over 60 years ago.
Back in the 1950’s when my dad – the owner of a well-known Wall Street flower shop, and my mom – the era’s typical housewife raising four children in suburbia Queens, drove east to unfamiliar countryside. Their first stop was Mattituck on the North Fork. There they rented a pleasant bungalow near to the Long Island Sound. Since my parents, Frank and Marie longed to buy an affordable and comfortable summer home, the rental provided them with the opportunity to sporadically pack up us kids into the old woody, the well-used three-row family station wagon and further explore the mysterious terrain. During that particular summer, my folks ultimately discovered their home away from home and ideal vacation sanctuary. It was in a quaint community along and around Noyac Bay, Sag Harbor, known to the very few as Pine Neck. It was a prime location, far surpassing what my parents had collectively envisioned.
The dwelling, which boasted a one car garage facing the street, was a four bedroom muted green colored cottage, equipped with a screened-in porch, and ample acreage for frolicking kids and dogs. Household telephones were then unheard of; an outdoor pump supplied drinking water; street lights were non-existent; and a truck delivered the blocks of ice needed for a cool summer drink. Yet, yards away and directly ahead of the two-story house was my parent’s unbelievable goldmine: a salty shoreline that promised oodles of fabulous water activities.
When my parent’s finally settled in, they soon discovered that the bay was abundant in natural resources: fish, clams, steamers, muscles and scary looking crustaceans, all of which provided the main ingredients for a lifetime of favored family meals.
Time, years and decades shuffled by – memories grew and eventually my parents sadly passed away. The house that they both loved and nourished and ironically named, “Full House,” stood empty and still. That’s when my kids and I made a pact to carry the legacy on by passing the old memories on, while creating new ones.
Typically, when my family arrives, I first hear the excited voices of the grandchildren. Car doors open and bellowing voices fill the tranquil community of Pine Neck. The neighbors immediately discern that the kids are back. Dragging behind each grandchild are their trendy suitcases packed with what’s deemed their most essential items: iPods, IPads, Kindles, American Girl Dolls and even a little green guy name Luigi. Somewhere behind them are their anxious parents, my kids and their spouses, whose yearlong dreams have revolved around relaxing on chaise lounges arranged haphazardly on the rocky shore.
After some jumping up and down and long welcoming hugs and sticky kisses, the grandchildren ask the key question: “When can we have magic?”
In the beginning, it was totally unclear to me that the Magic Room even existed, or would be considered as such. That first year of togetherness, all I did was open my bedroom door, enter the living room and jokingly say to the early risers: ‘Hocus Pocus, Hocus Pocus.’’ Then from under a bright-colored cloth, I pulled out a toy for each grandchild. Imagine their surprised delight!
Afterwards, and at random times, I whipped out little trinkets hidden behind towels, or cushions. Items such as coloring books, playing cards, and miniature stuffed animals all came from what the kids referred to as “The Magic Room.” A chess game would suddenly appear with the pieces already battling to win. Toys concealed on the deck partially hinting of their presence; blowup rafts sitting on the beach, and recently– kayaks, all came from The Magic Room at The Grandmas Country Beach House. After a long day of swimming, or upon their early waking, the magic materialized.
Unplanned, yet continuously requested, was how The Magic Room began. From the onset, it’s become a tradition these past six years at The Grandma’s Country Beach House. I never anticipated the welcomed monster that I created, nor am certain as to who officially named it so. Was it Kayli, Isabella, Riley or Christopher?
While the grandchildren and I become older, the magic gets tougher, and I might add – more expensive! What will the magic be this year? I haven’t a clue. Yet, on any clear July evening, while watching the blissful faces of all the kids – big and small – I give thanks to my parents, Marie and Frank for the true magic that started it all.