My sister and I were once baton twirlers. It was the 1980s and twirling the baton was pretty cool. It may still be. I don’t run in the baton twirling circles anymore, so I’m not sure. I just know that every summer, she and I performed our routines to a patriotic song during the July 4th celebration at Ocean Lakes Campground in Myrtle Beach, SC.
I found this picture the other day in a stack of old family photos. As I looked at it, two things happened. First, I was flooded with memories of my childhood and the many, many July 4th holidays spent at Ocean Lakes. Second, I chuckled at the randomness and humor in the photo which includes a strange man headed straight for us, my blue Keds which are now back in style, and the fact that walking around in our baton costumes was commonplace.
Seriously, though, my childhood Independence Days were quintessential, in hindsight anyways. My sister and I slept in bunk beds nestled into a wall of our blue and white camper. We would wake up early, hurriedly eat some Cocoa Puffs, then play cards or bounce a ball back and forth in the street outside of our camper’s lot. We had a black and white TV that’s screen was much smaller than my laptop screen, so there was really no point in trying to watch it. Interestingly, watching TV didn’t cross our minds because well…there were too many other things to do.
When my parents woke up, we would dress in our July 4th attire and head into the heart of the campground to watch the golf cart parade. Everyone dolled up their golf carts with red, white, and blue. You couldn’t look in any direction without stars and stripes flooding the retinas. Later in the day, my sister and I would twirl our batons to tunes like “Yankee Doodle” and “In the Navy”.
In the evening, we would stuff our faces with hamburgers, barbeque potato chips, and watermelon. Then the family would walk to the beach and watch fireworks until late into the night.
Summertime memories made at Ocean Lakes Campground are entrenched in my heart and mind like other people’s memories of summer camp or days at the local pool. For me, July 4th meant family, campground fun and twirling my baton. There is a very real possibility my sister and I did not want to twirl our batons for a bunch of vacationers we didn’t know. I mean, we were kids. We probably wanted to spend the day splashing around in the ocean or building sand castles, but as I look at this picture, I feel only warmth in my heart and fondness toward that time in my life.
It’s funny how the brain does that. It’s like when I look back at pictures of my older son when he was a colicky baby, I remember very little of the stress it caused. I simply remember the joys of having his little body in my arms and the indescribable feeling of being a new mom.
What are your childhood memories of the 4th? If they were good, cherish them. If they were not so good, you have time to make up for that with new memories. I hope my boys look back at pictures of them in red, white, and blue and smile like I do when I look back at this snapshot.
Have a safe and happy fourth, everyone! Someone will be remembering this day years from now, so make it a good one.