Why Jews fly south for the winter: poolside fun and pampering
Youve heard of snow birds, but what about snow babes, the children and grandchildren of snow birds who visit our parents who are wintering in Florida each year?
Getting there from snowy climates is one thing. Getting by Checkpoint Charlie Katz at the guard house at the Tivoli in Boynton Beach is another. To visit my parents in their gated community, I have to show a picture ID each time I come in.
Once we family members gain entrance, my folks welcome six grandchildren, two children, and their spouses with a pantry full of food and a promise of fun.
Like visiting families all over Florida, when we go out were three generations traveling around as one unruly unit. At restaurants the kids eat fast; the grandparents take their time.
My dads a slow eater, I tell the waiter at a deli that serves complimentary marble cake with breakfast.
We hang all the slow eaters pictures in the kitchen, he retorts.
While the waiters may have limited patience for extended families, retired parents are out to pamper their offspring. Visiting snowbirds isnt an obligation-vacation anymore; its more like a many-expenses-paid vacation.
We send the kids separately for some unadulterated grandparent time, says Meri Pensack, of Needham, Mass. They eat waffles and ice cream for dinner, go shopping with someone else paying, and generally get spoiled.
At Boca West home to 10,000 people, four golf courses, and two restaurants Randolph resident Stephanie Wichanskys mother-in-law turned her garage into a carpeted playroom.
The kids dance, bounce, play ball and no one ever says no, says grandma Diane Wichansky.
While accommodations work thanks to pull-out couches, the mix of ages and idiosyncrasies during family visits can be trying.
My moms husband comes into our room for his shoes at 5:30 a.m., says Maddy Friedman of Edison. Normans a great guy, but he thinks everyone gets up at that hour.
For some adult kids, its been decades since theyve lived with their parents. They may have forgotten the house rules, or dont realize how set in their ways their folks have become.
My mother-in-law has an imaginary line in her villa that you cant cross with food, says Cindy Getzoff, of Plainview, NY. Shes sure shell get ants if we go over that line.
Rather than get into neatness squabbles with my own fastidious parents, I stay a step ahead. We keep our suitcases in the garage and change clothes in front of their car. I can be as messy as I please until my father comes out with the recyclables.
In one breath my Dad complains that people read The Palm Beach Post and dont put the sections back neatly, if at all. In the next he expresses the happiness of sharing quality and quantity time together.
Families are so spread apart now, and the years fly by, he says. Even in a week or two, we can learn a lot about each other.
Its a highlight, says my mom.
On the way home, my nine-year-old daughter asks why we have to live in New Jersey.
I want to go back to Florida, says her younger sister.
We all do, added my older son with authority.
And we will go back. Florida sun and fun is an obvious draw, but visiting snowbird parents is about more than that. Its about making memories coupled with the joys and frustrations of family.
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