by Donna Byrd
It’s that time of year! Suitcases are being filled to the brim with bathing suits, beach cover ups, tee shirts, shorts and that one beachy dress that may be worn to a nice restaurant. Travel bags are stocked with sunscreen, magazines and that new John Grisham novel, a couple of pairs of flip flops and oh yes, aloe gel, just in case someone gets a little sunburned. Meds are carefully packed away in zip lock bags and oh yes, don’t forget the deck of cards, Scrabble Board and the 1,000 piece puzzle Grandma gave you for Christmas. It’s a perfect time to put it together because finally, the one week of the year you’ve all been waiting for is here. It’s vacation time!
Yes, the calendar is saying, “June is here,” and with it brings families by the thousands to our fair shore. From now until the end of August, Topsail Island becomes a Mecca to those ready for a little rest, relaxation and quality time with friends and family.
I remember when we moved here a few years ago, we were warned not to venture out to the grocery stores and local markets on Saturdays in the summertime, especially during the afternoon. The vacationers were arriving on that day and the stores were packed with folks buying necessities and groceries.
I heeded their advice at first, staying away from our neighborhood Food Lion and Harris Teeter, but one Saturday, I was entertaining and cooking for a crowd. I needed a special ingredient and had to go to the store on a Saturday afternoon.
The parking lot was full of cars with out-of state license tags and I had to park out near the main road. Oh no! What had I gotten myself into? Was I crazy to venture out into this crowd? The store was teeming with with folks and the checkout lines were long but there was something there I hadn’t expected.
There was this undercurrent of happiness that was infectious. People were piling their favorite foods into their grocery carts. Meals were being planned for the week in between the aisles of canned goods and cereals. I could hear happy chatter. “Which would you rather have? Chicken or beef? How do you like your fish? Broiled or fried? Did you get the ice? I hope you’re planning on making that cake you made last year for us. It was so good! Don’t forget to buy the wine and beer! Uh oh! Better get some Tums.”
Children were laughing and fooling around. Grocery carts were piling higher and higher! Employees were standing by to answer questions: “Where is the cocktail sauce? Do you have fresh ginger?”
Folks were laughing and planning, all the while catching up with those loved ones they hadn’t seen since Christmas. Children were sneaking cookies and Captain Crunch into the carts and the parents didn’t seem to mind. Generosity was everywhere. A mid-level hum of happiness could be heard throughout the store. Expectations were running high. It was going to be the perfect vacation!
I don’t know, but somehow I got caught up in the fun of it all. A chaotic happiness permeated the building. I loved being amongst all the excitement. Ever since that day, I don’t mind slipping into the stores as vacationers come and stock up for the week. During that time, our Food Lion, Harris Teeter and the Walmart Neighborhood Marketplace are some of the happiest places on earth.
The employees have stocked their shelves and counters and they are waiting for your return! Limes and bananas are stacked up to the ceilings, iced cold beer of all varieties is waiting for you in the coolers, the butchers are showing off their pretty steaks, chicken and pork chops. Rows of chips are waiting to be snatched up and the smell of rotisserie chickens are making us hungry! They’re all waiting for you! Heck, I’m waiting for your return! You make this place just so darn happy!
So welcome back to Topsail! Our doors are opened wide and we’re hoping this is your best vacation yet! Come on! We need “some happy” up in this place!