My family, on my father’s side, has always been extremely close. Dad was one of only two children, and the bond between that family of four was incredibly tight. Because of this, my siblings and I were able to make some of our most cherished childhood memories. Even though my family moved around alot, from Florida to South Carolina, to Georgia and back to SC, then back to GA and then to Alabama, it was a given that we would always make time to reconnect at my grandparents’ house. Every Christmas was spent around Granny’s tree, with all of us in attendance – aunt, uncle, cousins, grandmother (my granddad had already passed away before my birth), my immediate family, and even one or two great-aunts.
Just as we always knew where we’d spend Christmas, every summer my sisters and I could count on spending at least a sizeable chunk of time on those beautiful, white-sandy Florida beaches. We were allowed to spend a few weeks with Granny each year after school was dismissed, and at least part of it was without our own parents being there. Mom and/or Dad would drive us there, stay a few days and then leave. Then they’d come back to pick us up a few weeks later. The list of things to look forward to was very long: Granny’s homemade fried chicken and veggies right out of the garden; the huge watermelon patch next to the house with such an abundant crop that we’d split the melon, eat the heart of it, and then pitch the rest; picking blackberries so Granny could make homemade blackberry jam; getting paid to go to our aunt’s insurance office to file records for her, and then getting a donut mid-morning at the bakery just around the corner; going to bed at night and having Lallie scratch our backs until we fell asleep (but our great-aunt was very smart…she always asked us to scratch her back FIRST so she could ensure she got a turn!); swimming out in the Gulf to, not the first sandbar, but all the way beyond it to the second one (that’s where the biggest shells were)! The list is endless. THere were only a few things I did NOT look forward to: shelling butterbeans (and the inevitable sore thumbs the next day!); those infernal military helicopters that would fly overhead and I was convinced if they saw me in the yard they’d kill me (it’s a long and wierd story, and thankfully I grew out of it…suffice it to say I was very young and it was during the latter years of the Vietnam war…I didn’t understand that it was all happening on the other side of the globe); Granny’s lack of central air conditioning (but she did have a lot of oscillating fans and two window units, although she didn’t like to turn those on); and….well, what do you know – I can only think of three things.
The point is, it was the stuff that makes a childhood magical. (more…)