It's summer and, for most of us redheads and other fair-skinned people, that translates to sunburns and new crops of freckles.
While sunburns can be extremely painful and have long-term, deadly effects, freckles are a visible reminder that we (with the help of generous and frequent applications of sunscreen) enjoy the outdoors like anyone else.
I am a freckle magnet. I know that, to many of my friends and acquaintances, I have more freckles than anyone they have ever met. Every inch of my skin that has been exposed to the sun has been kissed with freckles.
Throughout my life, even now at age 60, people comment on my freckles. The most common reaction is, "You've got a lot of freckles."
Seriously? They don't think I know it?
I have always been teased about my freckles. While most comments are innocent, there have been some through the years that were meant to be hurtful, but the nasty remarks never bothered me. The reason? My parents.
My mother and father told me every day of my childhood that I was beautiful. They told me my red hair brightened the world and that my freckles were kisses from angels. I believed them. They gave me a gift that every parent should give to their children -- self-confidence.
I know I'm different and my hair and skin aren't considered what society has long dictated as beautiful. But thanks to my parents, I'm fine with who I am. And I've been surrounded with wonderful people my entire life who love me for who I am.
None of my four children inherited my red hair or my freckle-magnet gene, and they don't have my super-sun-sensitive skin. They tan. Apparently, my recessive genes skipped a generation.
But both my granddaughters are fair-skinned redheads, and they're getting a sprinkling of freckles on their faces. They are adorable.
The color of the girls' hair does, in fact, brighten the world, and their freckles are seriously cute. So every day, dozens of times, I tell these babies how beautiful they are, how much I love them and how lucky our family is to have them in our lives.
As they grow up, hopefully they won't envy their peers who fit the mold of what society dictates as perfect because my granddaughters will have confidence in being who they are -- beautiful redheads with freckles.
Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/karennazorhill.