I know, I know. I missed a day again. There’s a discipline to writing every day that I’m still trying to learn. I’m hoping that when I finally do it will become a life-long habit.
Anyway, I did spend time yesterday thinking about the blog challenge and what I would write about. I just couldn’t come up with an answer. The challenge is to write about your favorite childhood memory. There are a lot of great memories, but I think I’ve decided that my favorite is summertime vacations in Michigan. When I was young we would travel to Michigan each summer to spend time with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins. This was usually the only time of the year I would get to see that side of my family. And we went on crazy adventures that I never would have done back home.
Most of the time my brother Jason and I would go stay with our aunt and her family at the Yogi Bear Campground. My aunt and uncle had a pop up tent they slept in, while they lined their four kids and my brother and I up like sausages wrapped in sleeping bags inside a long tent. Three of my four cousins were older than me, and I thought they were the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whatever they did, I wanted to be doing it. Even if I was confident it was wrong and would land me in big trouble . . . or hell, both of which seemed like very real possibilities to my incredibly naive mind. So whether it was cussing, sneaking out to meet up with strangers in the middle of the night, or trying to learn the lyrics to rap music about life in the ‘hood, I wanted to be a part. More than anything I wanted them to think I was cool. I am confident they never did. The incredibly naive little girl is never cool.
Back at my grandparents home my little brother Justin and sister Amber would stay with my parents. The days we had to stay there were incredibly tiresome, both literally (my grandparents could snore loud enough to wake the dead) and figuratively (imagine a merry-go-round of arguments about the right way to raise kids, believe in God, eat as a diabetic, and administer insulin). But those days were also filled with their own blend of magic and charm. My grandmother believed in making everything from scratch and we had the most amazing breads, jams, and canned vegetables ever. They also lived next to a cherry orchard where we would roam in search of stray fruit, and a huge sand dune perfect for sand sledding.
I have wonderful memories of my aunt and uncle swinging me (one holding tight to my wrists, the other my ankles) as they tossed me into Lake Michigan. There was so much love in that –the kind of love that made me feel both embraced and free to do the things I was still afraid of. I remember ferry rides and the trip up to Mackinak Island where we had to leave our cars behind and walk on foot. I remember crazy trips to restaurants where all of us kids managed to ring up a tab of $150 in sodas. I remember wandering through the garden patch my grandfather cultivated and whipping over the sand in dune buggies. I remember how the driver told us that in 50 years all the sand dunes would have stolen up the lake they sat near, and it would be nothing more than a memory. I remember being held in my father’s arms and how no other place ever seemed to be a part of him like that place. Most of all I remember him. And how somehow the sand dunes managed to steal him too.
There are so many memories wrapped up in those summer vacations. Memories that I will treasure forever. And my only sadness is that my younger two siblings probably don’t remember much of that magical time we had before a part of our family was lost. But I pray that if I keep telling the stories, my memories can become a gift to them–a gift that will keep our loved ones alive even after the sand dunes have swallowed them whole.
Check out Karla’s favorite childhood memory here.