My parents have been renting the same cabin on the west shore of Lake Tahoe for thirty years—since my youngest brother was two years old. There are four of us (I’m the oldest), and we are of course all grown now, three of the four of us are married, and my sister is engaged. My two brothers each have two kids.
Even though we don’t all stay in the same cabin together anymore, my parents still go every year for the third or fourth week in July, and we kids, and our respective spouses and kids, all spend at least a few days (if not the whole week) up there at the same time.
Last year, as a gift to my parents, we had planned to do family photos—something we haven’t done with all of us since…well before any of us were married, so it’s been a while. The cabin comes with access to a private beach on the lake, where we were going to do documentary style photos of one of our favorite things: hanging out together, barbequing, and having dinner by the lake at sunset.
It was going to be perfect. Very picturesque, to be cliche.
Except—and maybe you can see where this is going (if you remember what was happening in California last summer)—we had to cancel the photo shoot because of the wild fires.
The air quality left a smokey haze hanging over the Tahoe Basin, and the beautiful backdrop we imagined for our photos was non-existent. If you’ve ever been to Lake Tahoe, you know that the view is breathtaking no matter where you are on the lake: deep, crystal blue water reflecting snow-capped mountains from every angle.
Last year, with the smoke hanging in the air, you could not see the mountains.
Not only did we cancel the shoot, but my brother and his family didn’t go at all, because of the air quality, and neither did I. It was bad.
Why am I telling you all of this?
I’m getting there, I promise.
With the pandemic, and the fires last year, it has now been more than two years since my family has all been together. We plan to change that this year—next month, in fact, as it’s time for our annual gathering at Lake Tahoe at the end of July. And, yes, you guessed it, we are rescheduling the photo shoot that didn’t happen last year.
Coordinating the photo shoot is my responsibility (duty?) as the oldest, and I was checking in with my brother to confirm when he and his family would be there. I texted him and his wife with three possible dates the photographer was available, and asked which would be best for them.
The text came back that they thought the Tahoe dates were the following week.
Let me check with Mom, I replied.
Mom confirmed the dates I had.
The text came saying that maybe my brother and his family wouldn’t be able to make it. They would try to change their reservation, but weren’t sure they could since it’s so close to the dates.
Now, I’ve written to you before about my tendency to spin out and my usual response would probably have been something like: Oh no, what are we going to do? How did this happen? How did they get the dates wrong? I should call Mom. No, I should call my brother. I’ll call them tomorrow.
Then I’d call everyone and talk around in circles about how this happened, how to fix it, what to do, what could be done, and whether I should cancel the photographer altogether.
But INSTEAD of doing any of that, I simply took a deep breath and said out loud: Everything is going to be ok.
Everything is going to work out and everyone will be able to make it to Tahoe and we will have the photo shoot. Everything is going to be ok.
Then I did nothing.
That’s right, I did nothing.
I had already told the photographer I would confirm the date with him by the end of the week.
My brother said he would see about changing their reservation.
So I did nothing.
I knew that when my brother and his family come to Tahoe with us, they usually stay Monday through Thursday. So at the end of the week, I let the photographer know I wanted to lock in Wednesday as our date for the photoshoot. It took him three days to send me the contract. I got the contract and let him know I’d take care of it the next day.
By then it had been just over a week since the text exchange with my brother. It was Friday and I was making a one-hour drive, so I decided I’d just give my brother a call while I was driving. We chatted for about thirty minutes and spent most of that time commiserating about some family drama, and toward the end of the conversation he said, “Oh, speaking of family stuff, I was able to change our Tahoe reservation so we will be there.”
I told him he just made my day, and that I knew he’d make Mom’s day too.
And the best part is: I was right—everything WAS going to be ok.
And I did nothing to bring it about.