I’ll never forgot the first time that I went clamming. I was around twelve years old and my extended family and I were on vacation in Ocean City. We had plans to prepare a seafood dinner that night, so my cousins and I found a perfect spot to clam just off of 19th Street. I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited to try something new and exciting. Until we arrived.
Let me start off by saying that I am not a “get your hands dirty” type of girl. I don’t like dirt. Or camping. Or any sort of activity that makes me want to immediately go take a shower. My family, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. So when we arrived at the marsh and everyone was filled with excitement, I immediately thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”
First, we had to trudge through several feet of swampy grass, followed by another several feet of disgusting muck that went up to my thighs. It smelled like a sewer and the muck was a gross, slimy consistency. We then proceeded to spend the next two hours digging our toes deep into the muck, diving under the smelly water, and scooping up the clams. It was not my idea of a good time. I think I found two clams that day. My family had much better luck then I did. We arrived back home with dozens of clams.
While I had been miserable clamming, my mood immediately shifted when we started cooking in the kitchen. We made clams casino and had a seafood feast that night. All fifteen of us. My family laughed and did their best impersonations of me trying to scoop up clams from the bottom of the bay. It was a great time and one of my favorite memories because now I can look back and laugh.
For the past 26 years of my life, I’ve spent a week of my summer break in Ocean City and have dozens of stories that I could tell. I’ve never missed a year of vacation. My aunts, uncles, and cousins all share a week together where we cook meals, stay up late playing games, and live outside of the confines of a schedule. The week is all about refueling.
When I was younger, the vacation was less about refueling and more about the “must-dos.” And I will be the first person to tell you that traditions are important and shouldn’t be neglected! A trip to Ocean City always means:
- A visit to Candy Kitchen and Fisher’s Popcorn
- Going to the board walk and getting on at least one ride
- Eating steamed crabs by the bay
- A really good sunburn
- Approximately a dozen mosquito bites
While I always make sure to check those activities off the list, my appreciation for Ocean City has extended beyond those traditions as the years have gone by. The time spent on our annual trip has become much more meaningful to me now that I’m older. It’s a week for me to connect with God. To wake up early, sit on the porch with my dad, and study the Bible. To watch the sun rise and reflect on the fact that each morning is a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to experience God’s love and the hope He brings. It’s a chance to slow down and quiet my mind so that I can hear from Him. Ocean City is a place where I know that God is always going to show up and speak to me. Whether it’s through the still of the water, the crashing of the waves, or the calm of dusk, He whispers, “I love you,” to my soul. I feel His presence and it brings a sense of peace and assurance that whatever the fall brings, God will be establishing my steps. (Proverbs 16:9)