Now that summer is here I find myself thinking about my summers as a child. To me, summer is backyard BBQs, swimming pools, days at the beach, camping, fishing, amusement parks and county fairs.
When I was growing up, my family would have family BBQs almost every weekend. We called them cookouts. Sometimes we would have the cookout in our back yard, sometimes we would go to the small park in town and sometimes we would go to the lake. But it was always a really big thing. We would often be joined by Aunts, Uncles and cousins. And every family would contribute to the food, drinks and snacks.
I remember sneaking up behind various family members and dropping ice cubes (that I had taken from the cooler) down the back of their shirts. Of course, that would always result in them chasing me down with an ice cube of their own. I have 4 older brothers and 4 older sisters, so there was never a shortage of targets.
Even when we stayed home, we found ways to beat the summer heat and have fun doing it! We would often spend the day playing in the water sprinklers, or just spraying each other directly with the water hose. We loved having water balloon battles and squirt gun fights.
We would play lawn darts (the ones with the sharp tips on the end that stuck in the ground when they landed) and we'd toss a frisbee back and forth. At night the bats would come out and would sometimes swoop down at a dart or frisbee as it flew through the air.
We had a fire pit too. I hole that my Dad dug in the ground and built his fire in. He called it his Indian hole. And we had those tacky smiley face picnic camping lights strung between the trees. We sat out there around that Indian hole almost every single night, watching the fire and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.
As I grew older, those cookouts got fewer and less often. It's really kind of sad. My kids never had the chance to experience a cookout like that. Of course we have BBQs with them. But they have never gotten to experience one of those cookouts where all of our extended family got together for the whole day, playing games and having fun together. I hope they get the chance to experience it some day.