In the darkened loft of the log cabin, the ten pajama clad kids whispered and suppressed laughter hoping the seven tired adults did not hear them. Laying there in jammies on four beds, two futons and two air mattresses, sleep eluded them.
Hours before they had converged on this isolated cabin in the woods for the biggest, longest pajama party ever. Dads hauled in coolers of ham, turkey, chicken, eggs and milk along with boxes of cereal, bread, rolls, noodles, potatoes and salad fixings. Moms brought family news, recipes, child rearing tips and suddenly shy toddlers. Teenagers rolled their eyes when told, “help carry in those suitcases and blankets” before they grabbed and carried suitcases, bundles of favorite pillows, blankets and “just-in-case-we-have-time” games and crafts.
Everyone settled in for a weekend of fun. The counter held a supply of snacks including Grandma’s bottomless barrel of cookies and muffins. The TV remote lay unused. Grandchildren from one to fifteen each discovered the sleeping dorm, the outside shower and the huge pond surrounded by bright green ryegrass. Quickly the noise level rose as the little kids called out, “come on, let’s go” and “did you see…?” as they ran up and down the stairs.
Well they ran the stairs until Grandma commanded, “go outside and play. Take a walk. Watch out for the alligators in the pond and do NOT leave food outside, There are bears out there.”
“What! Bears and alligators?!” The city folks gasped.
“Yes. This is like The Little House in the Big Woods. You are not in central park.”
“Stay out of the pond with the alligators,” dads emphasized. If they could not go in, well then the next generation would skip rocks.
Quickly the nineteen (plus five more that came later) broke into groups by age. The first graders and pre-schoolers walked the beams around the cabin, before breaking away for a game of hide and seek. Older children climbed the end poles of the cabin’s logs. Parties of four and five formed on the balcony to share secrets, play dolls and view the pond stretched out before them.
The big boys told jokes, teased each other and sometimes offered piggy-back rides. The girls giggled, played dolls and painted their nails. As always, the aunts and Grandma chatted at the kitchen table. Inside and out, the uncles and grandpa sprawled on couches and chairs or leaned against porch pillars to swap stories.
Before bed, budding stars announced, “It’s time for the talent show.” Moms and Dads watched proudly as their children sang, performed magic and performed gymnastic feats. The MC of the evening announced, “And now for the intermission we have unusual talents.” Everyone laughed at the ear wiggling, nose twitching and eye rolling skills demonstrated.
Work schedules did not matter in the timelessness of the trees all around the family. With no Internet access and cell reception only possible in the middle of the yard, no one rushed. Children created games of “let’s pretend” and adults shared stories of “it happened when.”
The noise at the big pajama party in the not so little cabin in the woods resounded inside the cabin. Maybe it scared the bears and alligators away for no saw any large animals except the dead wild pig on the side of the road.
Those who stepped outside for a moment of quiet heard woodpeckers tapping and peepers singing. Another saw a blue heron skim over the water. Another stood and stared up at stars usually obliterated by city lights.
The last day everyone left the too short weekend in the forest with more stories added to the family lore.