One afternoon at my parents’ house, I was sharing some observations and concerns about one of my children. We had a nice long talk, the length and level of detail only moms and sisters can understand, and many helpful and caring comments were shared. There was also this: “Well, [your child] is a Dryden, you know.” As if that explained a great deal. We laughed. But, it actually does.
Drydens are special, as a certain Dryden uncle is fond of reminding us on an almost weekly basis during Wednesday Night Dryden Family Dinner.
As of this week, I have been a Dryden for exactly 15 years. And for the record, they have been 15 wonderful years and I wouldn’t ever wish for a different family-by-marriage. A couple weeks ago, I got on a plane with nine other Drydens for our first ever family vacation to the Hawaiian islands.
It is quite a marvel that we went to Hawaii at all. Drydens typically vacation close to home in one of many beautiful Northwest locales. One Dryden doesn’t particularly like being in water or being too hot. Drydens are frugal, or at least very deliberative about vacation spending. Hawaii was an unanticipated and much-celebrated vacation pick.
Deliberative being a key word, we are terrible decision-makers, often getting bogged down in details and pros and cons, and we are exceedingly concerned with each family member’s needs and desires. We worry and consider unforeseen (by more carefree types), unlikely, negative outcomes. Fortunately one of the Drydens eventually cut through the circuitous deliberations and made a decision. And booked flights that same night.
Once we were past the point of no return, the matriarch sprung into action. Careful planning is her forte. Vacation rentals were perused and analyzed, emails flew back and forth across the Pacific, and sleeping arrangements were discussed. A meal planning chart was distributed and lists were made. Photo opportunities were planned. I simply surfed the wave of Dryden preparedness, confident my landing in Oahu would be comfortable.
And comfortable it was. We landed in a small town on the northeast shore of Oahu, in a large house with the sandy beach and warm waves in the backyard, and a huge grassy expanse in the front, exceeding our expectations in every way. The Drydens settled in and did their thing.
First things first. The Dryden men scanned the rental house for structural integrity:
“Do you think this is a load-bearing wall?”
“Check out this beam.”
“They must have different earthquake regulations here.”
The children found and tested each and every fan, light switch, and mattress. The women surveyed cupboards for staples such as flour, sugar, oil, and soy sauce. Once that was settled, swimsuits came out of suitcases and untroubled island enjoyment commenced.
Drydens are eloquent. They don’t just see cool fish. They see stunning, multi-colored aquatic life. They don’t admire palm trees and green mountains. They delight in the varied vegetation and topography. For some Drydens, to feel something is to put it to words: “I am glad I am a thrill-seeker. It is so worth it” (Ellie Dryden, age 8). The youngest Dryden announced each sighting of water, birds, and lights, repeating himself with increasing loudness until another family member acknowledged his observation with adequate excitement.
Drydens are thankful. Following decades of practice, voicing gratitude comes as naturally to the senior Drydens as reading informative articles and making popcorn (which, in case you were wondering, are favored Dryden activities, vacation or otherwise). These two give thanks for every little thing, even when they are the ones who should be thanked in the circumstance:
“Thank you for waiting!” (after she returns the shopping cart)
“Thank you for coming with us to Hawaii!” (their generous gift to us)
Their modeling has rubbed off on the next two generations. Little thank-yous were voiced by the 4-, 6-, and 8- year-olds (and probably less frequently by the 30-somethings) for treats, games, story reading, and sand castle assistance.
Drydens love God and love each other. The vegetation and topography around us were made more beautiful by delighting in the Creator and enjoying it together. As we gathered again on Christmas Eve, back on the continent in the cold Northwest, we perused vacation photos and catalogued the attributes of God made evident in what we experienced on the island. We loved cooking together, reading together, swimming and snorkeling together, eating shaved-ice together, and talking (with big words, of course) together. We gave thanks for our children’s strong, healthy bodies and their enjoyment of new experiences.
The Dryden Family Hawaii Vacation was a smashing success. It was a week of paradise, made even more lovely by the people who enjoyed it together, who are knit together with all of our idiosyncrasies and strengths by God’s hand. Thank you, Drydens, for this gift.