Back-to-basics beach week brings lessons

Published on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 23:06 - Written by By Leah Hamilton-Slider Guest Columnist

We had a fabulous beach vacation. It came along at the right time.

I have been sticking to my New Year’s resolution and staying atop the political scene, trying to be a better American. It had gotten me so down and out. The media grabs something and just rips it to shreds, mainly exposing the totally negative side of the whole situation. No wonder there are so many depressed Americans. It’s everywhere!

I was a little concerned about the tone of our vacation this year with seven boys, Lacey and a pug named Lady. So much testosterone was going to be a hand full, but I am going to brag a little bit: Our group this year got along quite well. I was amazed at how much each one of them has grown up during the past year.

We allowed them to play on their Nintendos and cell-phones on the drive to and from. If we were sitting at the house, waiting on turns for the shower, or for the meal to finish cooking, they could play them, but other than that, all electronics stayed put up. The only time the TV was turned on was to watch two Rangers ball games after Grandma got there. Otherwise, it was off.

We do it the old-fashioned way. After we got to our beach house, we unloaded. The kids stayed at the house while my sister and I headed into town with our long grocery list and bought everything needed for the whole trip.

If we have to run back to town, it’s for something specific that comes up unexpectedly, but generally, we don’t run up and down the road.

We always take them to the Buc-ee’s in Freeport one time for them to spend money saved up for the trip - birthday money, chore money, etc.

Home-cooked meals and family time is how we do it. After spending all day at the beach, we have family time. We worked a puzzle and played bingo and Uno. We made stepping stones out of things we picked up on the beach.

Some of us fished. We went to the Sea Center (which is free), built sand castles, went crabbing, searched for seashells and sand dollars and shot off fireworks.

And the last night, we walked to the jetty for the traditional vacation picture.

My point in all this is I feel America has gotten away from taking the time to do it right. It is so much easier to send kids to camp, to vacation Bible school or to get a babysitter than it is to load them all up as a family and get back to the basics.

There will be obstacles. One of the boys was sick with fever, but what I witnessed was the others grabbing a stack of cards and piling up in the bed with him to play Uno. I saw them put down their Nintendo games to play “pretend” store with dominoes as money. I heard manners being used: “Thank you,” “Yes ma’am,” “You’re welcome” and “Please.”

Of course, there was the occasional slip up that prompted a reminder, but the issue was immediately corrected.

This year, our new event was making stepping stones. Everyone searched the beach and gathered shells to make the stones and shared with the others so that they would all have enough. They took turns taking care of Lady - holding her, playing with her, taking her out, making sure she had food and water, and letting her sleep with them.

When it was time to leave, we had all our stuff out in the foyer, so all I had to do was tell them where. We were loaded in about 20 minutes.

Respect, honor, love and responsibility are the simple basics. In my opinion, America needs to take more family beach vacations.

It is hard to live a basic life in America anymore. Everything is so fast-paced and commercialized. It seems that if someone doesn’t like something, they pass a law to change it without thinking, “Should they change it?”

I don’t have all the answers, just a bunch of thoughts. I do have my moral beliefs, and it when it comes down to the line, that’s all anyone really has: their beliefs.

In the end, that’s all that is going to get you where you want to be for eternity. I hope that when all these kids get older and think of our family beach vacations, they will fondly remember the simple basics that I know each of my siblings have taught their children.

Our children are America’s future. We have to take the time to do it right. America needs us to take that time.

Just the ramblings of an East Texas swamp queen. Peace and love.

Leah Hamilton-Slider is a Henderson resident and works as office manager for GME, Inc.