One of the best things about summer is having a campfire. Or two. Or ten.
I figure over the last 30 years of my life, I’ve sat around roughly 250 campfires. I think that’s fairly impressive, and I definitely count myself lucky to have enjoyed so much time laughing, singing and generally making merry by the fire.
I’d even go as far as to say that some of the happiest times of my life were spent around a campfire. As a kid roasting marshmallows with my brothers and parents, at summer camp singing my little heart out, in high school flirting with cute boys, or as an adult having great conversations with my best friends.
Another thing I love is feeling young. And campfires can transport me back to the days (not so long ago, really) when I felt just like a spring chicken. Especially when I’m hanging out with my niece and nephew.
Now, if I’m going to write a post about something that makes me happy, it stands to reason that I’d include my brother’s three kids because they make me happier than anyone else on earth. They also make me feel young in more ways than one.
So the other day we’re at my dad’s place (otherwise known as Grandpa’s place) and Jack and Elizabeth are super-duper excited to have a campfire. Grandpa makes the BEST campfires. This whole week has been one treat after the next for my brother’s two oldest children, since they’ve been spending it with their Nana Lynn (my mom) and are obviously getting spoiled to bits.
When the fire is underway and I’ve had a few conversations with Jack, 6, about kindling, poker sticks and general fire safety, we gather around and enjoy the last few rays of sun on a summer’s day.
Jack and Grandpa do the manly bonding thing at the fire.
Elizabeth is more focused on marshmallows and her walking stick. Really though, who can blame her? I loved marshmallows as a kid too. You know, before I knew what they were made of and stuff.
Elizabeth takes a stroll with her marshmallows while she patiently waits for the coals to be in perfect roasting condition.
Now, I mentioned before that having adult conversations was a fun thing around the campfire. And as happy as adult conversation makes me, nothing can compare to the conversations I have with the kids. This is where I start to feel young again.
At one point, I tell Elizabeth that she has beautiful hair (which she really does) and she just looks at me and says, “Auntie Sarah, you’re the most beautiful girl in the whole world.” To which I reply, “well I think YOU’RE the most beautiful girl in the whole world.” Elizabeth, being 3 and utterly confident in her cuteness (rightly so), simply nods her head in agreement and says, “One day when we grow up, maybe we could put on a golden show! We’ll go on stage and sing and dance and wear gold outfits and make up. And we’ll be the only ones on stage because we’re the most beautiful girls in the world.”
When we grow up. My heart smiles.
Later that night, while the kids are getting ready for bed, I’m eating a cracker. They wonder why I get a snack and they don’t, but I remind them that I’m a grownup and they don’t actually like these crackers anyway.
“But why?” asks Elizabeth.
“Because they don’t taste good to kids,” I say, trying not to imply that non-sugary treats aren’t delicious too.
“Oh. They don’t taste good to kids,” she says, looking a little perplexed.
There’s a pause.
“But you’re a kid…” Jack says quietly, with the hint of a question mark in his voice. My heart smiles.
It reminds me of the conversation my brother told me about a few months ago. A friend of ours had just given birth to a baby boy and my brother and sister-in-law had told the kids. Elizabeth, in an attempt to be funny, exclaimed, “Maybe Auntie Sarah had the baby!” to which Jack replied, “No, Elizabeth. Auntie Sarah can’t have babies.” “Why not?” “Because she’s only a teenager.”
I love it.
I know this perception they have of me will change as they get older, but for the time being I just love it. I hope they think of me not just as someone who tickles them, cares for them and will do absolutely anything to show them how much I truly, deeply love them, but as a fun and young-at-heart aunt, too.
Sometimes I imagine my heart getting a few sizes bigger when I’m near them, kind of like the Grinch without the attitude. How could it not? Look at those faces.
See? Campfires make you happy!
Can we do marshmallows now? How about now?
All in all, it was a very happy day. And as per Elizabeth’s instructions, I’m practicing my song for our upcoming stage show.
Ahem. “We are goooooooollddennnn…”
Love From Sarah
P.S. At the beginning of the post I mentioned my brother’s three kids… Baby Aaron was chillin’ with his Nana Sybil at the time, so he couldn’t make it to the campfire. But I’m looking forward to a lifetime of memories with him, too!