School has let out and families are a-buzz about beach vacations. All the beach chatter sent my mind racing back to my Mediterranean beach summers.

As a family, we only took one vacation in which we stayed in a hotel and ate out for a week. I know that sounds bizarre, but you had to know my dad to understand. He didn’t “do” vacations well. Finlay had a hard time slowing down, relaxing, and not “accomplishing” something each and every day. His only day of semi-rest was on Sunday, if he wasn’t preaching, that is!

Therefore, our beach vacations consisted of one day excursions, usually involving a visit to a ruin or archaeological site on the way, accompanied by a history lesson before the real fun started!

Our family beach trips were always punctuated by a fabulous picnic lunch, thanks to my mom who supervised it all from her perch on the sand, covered head to toe in cool, cotton, gauzey, long-sleeved attire and a huge, floppy sunhat. Being a redhead, her skin never kissed the sun!

Our food, fried chicken, home-made potato chips, individually waxpaper-wrapped deviled eggs, oatmeal raisin cookies, and fresh fruit were all packed in the ever utilitarian “Nido Cans” (gallon sized powdered milk tin cans with super strong, hard to get into lids)!

For drinks, our dinged-up, green, metal thermos with the side spout was filled with hand-squeezed, watered-down grape juice from our own grape vines. Each of us had our own designated color metal “glasses.”  This was waaaaay before tupperware! I can still feel my teeth clanking against the metal rims and my fingers wrapped around the cool, damp cylinders slicked with condensation from our “grape koolaid.”

As for swimming, my dad’s idea of teaching me to swim was to carry me out passed the cresting waves and toss me in, all the while exclaiming, “Don’t worry darrrrling, salt water keeps you afloat!” He would scoop me back up just before I swallowed half the Mediterranean, and throw me back again and again until he heard my mom yell, “Finley, stop that!!!!”

Oh, and let’s not forget the lovely ruffled, bloomer-like cotton swim costumes cinched by row after row of elastic. They never fit snuggly and on my skinny body would droop and sag as soon as they got wet, making it easier for sand to get in and collect!

But mostly, I remember the laughter, squeals of delight, and constructing with my sisters intricate sand castles in the damp surf only to be washed away as the tide turned. We would sit with our toes bathing in the ebb and flow of rippling surf and shifting sand tired, satiated, and sunburnt watching the sun sink into the Mediterranean.

Take time for family this summer.  It certainly doesn’t have to be glamorous to which my memories can attest! Succoring memories do last a lifetime and are passed down from one generation to the next.

What can your Stay-cation look like this summer?

“I wait for you in a place

where the sun meets the sky

Where ocean waves

swell against gentle

white shores

Where the familiar

path ends and the

unknown begins

I wait for you”

Robert Lewis Stevenson

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