Holidays don’t mean the same thing to a newspaper girl like me as they do to many people reading this.

While everybody and their mamas have been on the lake or down at the beach for July 4, I’ve been at work putting out five newspapers like any other week.

Holidays mean earlier deadlines, usually less staff members and a whole bunch to do in the newsroom. To be off for Christmas and my birthday (which is Christmas Eve) I put in 17 hours in one day just to get a couple days off then turned around and put in 20 hours in two days to be off New Year’s Day. Sometimes it’s better to work a holiday than even bothering trying to get the day off because of all the hard work you have to put in to make it happen. 

July 4 this year was a little different. I’d consider Thursday a mini day off, as I spent the first half of it covering the 43rd annual Russell Marine Boat Parade on Lake Martin. While that’s still “work,” it’s much more fun than a traditional day in the office. 

Our owner Kenneth Boone and his lovely wife Mary Lyman were kind enough to let sports editor Lizi Arbogast and I hitch a ride on their boat and let our boyfriends tag along too. If you were at the boat parade and saw a guy in the air with a really long camera lens on top of a boat, that was Kenneth. That man has an enormous amount of talent and stamina, all right. I got queasy just looking at him up there switching lenses and shooting pictures left and right. 

Ryne hasn’t been on the lake and I haven’t been in years — I think I just heard all the weekly lake-goers gasp — so it was good for us to get a little tour of the water that’s basically in our backyard. 

Plus, I’ve never seen the uniqueness and magic of the unorganized yet somehow organized chaos that is the annual boat parade. Boats were everywhere, some as spectators and others as contestants, donned in red, white and blue. 

Contestants had some noteworthy themes like the Boston Tea Party and of course, the “baby shark doo doo doo doo doo doo” boat. If you’re a parent or grandparent in 2019, you absolutely know the baby shark reference and probably cursed that boat for getting the song in your head after just getting it out the day before. 

I wrapped up the day by eating some Lake Martin Pizza Company — shout out to those guys for being open on the Fourth — and putting the paper together. I was done by 3:45 p.m., which is really early for me. All in all, despite a little sunburn, I had a fantastic holiday alongside some of my favorite people.

Holidays have a way of reminding you how special life can be and for me it was another reminder of how much I love my job.

The newspaper business can be grueling at times but it’s one of the most rewarding fields to be in. We are dedicated to reporting the news honestly, fairly and with integrity and our sole mission is to help our readers in some form or fashion. 

I got much-needed confirmation I’m where I’m supposed to be after attending the Alabama Press Association convention and awards banquet in Orange Beach last week. The Outlook won a slew of awards, including first in General Excellence meaning we are the best small, daily newspaper in the state. It also won first in Best Layout and Design, which — as the girl who lays out the pages of the newspaper every day — is an incredible feat for me and something I’ve been working toward since I started working here. 

Awards couldn’t be won without the talented team here at the paper and, most importantly, the support of our readers and advertisers. Everything we do is for you and I speak for each person who works at this paper when I say we appreciate the heck out of you. 

I hope all of our readers had a great Fourth doing whatever it is that makes your heart sing. While I spent my holiday working, it was yet another day spent doing what I love in this one-of-a-kind community of Lake Martin we are lucky enough to call home. 

Santana Wood is the assistant managing editor of The Outlook.