The other day I read the following status on a friend's Facebook page:
"I was raised in Georgia, where the flip flops came out in February, we don't have fireflies, we have lightnin bugs, we don't have cray fish we have CRAWL DADS, Taters are mandatory, YALL is a proper noun, chicken is fried, biscuits come with gravy, sweet tea is the house wine and we would never disrespect our elders. Repost if you were raised in GA."
In case you missed it, I wasn't raised in Georgia.
I was born in the beautiful Bay Area of California and raised southeast of there. (Central California, in case you think I'm referring to Florida or some other horrible place where alligators roam the streets eating cats and small children and fatties who can't run fast enough, of which I would be one.)
My childhood probably wasn't all that different than the ones of kids raised pretty near everywhere else in the United States in the 60s and 70s. My California childhood consisted of going to the family cabin in the Lake Tahoe area every summer and freezing my butt off swimming in the American River (which never, EVER warms up. EVER), camping trips from California to Alberta and British Columbia, and back down again, being forced to propel ourselves across lakes in a canoe, summer camp in Lake of the Woods, Oregon, swimming pools, burnt bar-b-cued chicken, and the rare and wonderful A & W Rootbeer float, which was delivered to our car by the waitresses on rollerskates who would attach the tray to our car door. I went to school with other kids who lived similar lives, took the mandatory piano, ballet and dancing lessons, was a Girl Scout, only sold cookies to my mom (because I hated going door to door... guess who never won a prize?), rode my bike to my friend's houses, yearned for Peter Frampton to magically appear before me and sing to me in his glorious purple satin pants, had a mad crush on Steve Perry, and morphed gently into a teen-ager at the appropriate time.
When we were thirsty my mom said, "Have a glass of water" and when we were hungry she said, "Eat an apple/whatever fruit was currently in season and most likely growing in our backyard." There were always at least two vegetables on our dinner table, most of which were grown in our garden (which was weeded and watered by my sister and I), and the "House Wine" came from Napa and was poured into two glasses and consumed every night by my parents.
I was dragged to church on Sunday's, forced to go to Confirmation classes on Tuesdays, could recite the 10 Commandments as well as answer the questions as posed in the Luther Catechism "What does this mean? It means we should fear and love God..." I could say the Apostle's Creed in my sleep and play the theme song for "The Young and the Restless" on the piano (as well as all the boring waltzes and concertos, etc. from The Masters).
We ran, we played, we Chinese jump-roped and tether-balled, and while I have never seen a lightning bug OR a firefly, I have caught "crawl dads" with a fishing line and a hot dog. (Only we called them crayfish or crawdads and we did not eat them. Sorry, Southern States.)
Bicuits were a rarity and a treat, fried chicken only happened about once a year and usually on the 4th of July, flip-flops were called thongs and we only got to wear them going back and forth to the pool (the rest of the time we wore sandals). There was no sweet tea, just your plain, ordinary, runofthemill Sun Tea that my mother would put out in the morning and serve in the evening (slightly warm and diluted with melting ice cubes).
We respected our elders and called them "Mr. or Mrs. Last Name" (unless invited to do otherwise) and thought that everybody have 14 different types of fruit trees growing in their backyards.
"Going to the beach" referred to Santa Cruz or Monterey, "going to the zoo" meant a day spent in San Francisco, and "going to the lake" meant lying in the sun until we were as brown and crispy as little strips of bacon.
I had a GREAT childhood.
Chances are, every person from every one of these states we live in have fabulous and fun memories of childhood that are unique and special partially because of where we were born.
I believe that part of the joy and beauty of growing up in the U.S. is that we all share one country that is divvied up into 50 different cultures, ideals, experiences and traditions.
I love my California traditions... and love hearing about the other 49.