All in the Family
The Lawing-Burris-Scott family has a decades-long tradition of vacationing in Brunswick County.
From the first trip he organized nearly 40 years ago, Kemit Lawing is the founding father of the multigenerational vacation trend in the Lawing-Burris-Scott family.
In 1982, as his children were getting older and starting lives and careers of their own, Kemit was looking for a way to connect with his entire family under one roof at the same time. So, he, along with his wife Mabel, organized a beach vacation. He shut down his lumber business for the week during the Fourth of July and started a tradition that continues every year to this day.
“That first year my dad rented a big house on the beach in Garden City, South Carolina,” says Donna Scott, Kemit’s daughter. “We’ve only missed one vacation together since then — 21 years ago when my dad passed away.”
The beach has always been a special part of the Lawing family’s lives. Scott grew up vacationing in Myrtle Beach. Her mother had a place there for more than 20 years and spent time there when Kemit used his vacation time to deer hunt.
The family members all live in western North Carolina between two towns: Conover and Catawba. Even though they see each other regularly, they still look forward to their week-long vacation each year. At one time, there were 26 members spread across three generations that attended the annual trip. But as life circumstances change, the numbers fluctuate year to year. Last year the group was down to 12. “My brother Rodney remarried and vacations in Virginia now, and my oldest brother Kem passed away seven years ago,” Scott says. The location changes as well.
While the beach vacations were originally in South Carolina, they have moved to the Brunswick County beaches over the years. “We’ve stayed in Oak Island, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, even as far north as Topsail Island,” says Scott. “Ocean Isle Beach has been our beach of choice for the past few years.”
The size of the rental house has increased each year too. The family, ranging in ages from 10 months old to 86, also wants a house that has all the amenities to satisfy everybody’s checklist. “The kids have to have swimming pool,” says Scott. “And if my 86-year-old mother can sit on the porch and look at the ocean, she is happy.”
With quality time a rare opportunity these days, especially for multiple generations, Scott and her family use these cherished trips to reconnect — with siblings, spouses, children, nieces, nephews and grandmother. Like many who enjoy a relaxing beach vacation, “We don’t do anything special, we just enjoy that time together.” Their time together includes hanging out on the beach, picking up shells and playing board and card games. And cooking and eating. They cook every meal in.
Certain meals have become traditions on their annual vacations, including the first night’s feast. They kick the evening off with happy hour at 3 pm and serve grilled venison backstrap — the very tender meat under the loin. It’s the filet mignon in deer. Scott’s brother, son and nephews are avid deer hunters. “They serve the backstrap with a homemade secret sauce they call Drunken Sauce,” Scott says. “I don’t really know what goes in it, and I’m not sure they do either, but it’s the best sauce!”
Another customary meal is the Santee Snuffer, Kemit’s take on a low-country boil with seafood, corn on the cob, sausage, potatoes and lots of butter and seasonings. The family lays it all out on a kitchen counter, and everybody digs in. “Everybody pitches in with dinners. Sometimes each family takes a turn in the kitchen,” Scott says.
After nearly four decades of vacationing together and knowing each other so well, the family has a well-established groove that allows them to relax, enjoy each other’s company and create long-lasting memories and traditions along the way.
For many, the idea of vacationing with extended family might seem dreadful, but just maybe the Lawing-Burris-Scott family have discovered the secret sauce that keeps their family together.