Friday, July 1, 2011

July 4th Festivities & Memories

I couldn't be more excited about the upcoming 4th of July festivities... the parade, the fireworks, the hamburgers and hotdogs, the swimming, the day off from work and, of course, the deeper underlying symbolism of the day -- freedom and independence. 

For me, July 4th typically represents freedom and independence from the daily grind.  It's a journey back in time to my childhood and a day to create memories for my own children.  Based on a quick glance at last year's pictures, they're not yet as enamored with it all as I am:

Lyons Cubs: 7.4.10: NOT enthralled by parade

Littlest Lyons Cubs: 7.4.10: wanting a nap more than another firetruck viewing!
To provide you with a bit more context for my 4th of July nostalgia, I grew up in a town that has a stellar parade.  The type of parade that draws a crowd from all over the great Garden State but features floats from each of our small-town elementary schools.  The type of parade that is SO good that the locals line the streets with their chairs the night (even two nights) before to secure a good viewing.  It's a parade filled with marching bands, floats and firetrucks.  It's a parade that I marched in as a kid and insist on dragging my kids to even as they whine that it's too hot, too loud or even too boring -- am I the only one with a 6 year old who is constantly bored?!

In any case, my Dad loves the day as much as i do.  I kind of the think of it as his day.  For he too grew up in the charming village of Ridgewood, NJ where I was raised and he shares many of the same memories I now have.  When I was a kid, I remember my uncles coming over with donuts for the kids and big coolers of beer for the post-parade party.  They would come at around 8AM for a party that started early and ended late.  My Dad would man the grill for hours and in fact, he still does.  After the parade, there is swimming and lunch and watermelon...

"Thank God that loud scary parade is over!  Finally, something to eat!"
After lunch, there's a lull in the action that might be filled with another swim, a nap by the pool or preparing for the evening's grand event -- the fireworks.  My parents have the perfect location for the day -- and the night.  Their house sits at the end of the parade route and caddy-corner to the field where the fireworks display takes place.  It is the Shangri-La of the 4th of July.  Family, friends and neighbors fill the front lawn and backyard to take it all in. My Dad dons an apron with stars and stripes while flipping burgers and dogs 'til the sun sets.  The 4th of July for me is like Christmas, but better because there's no pressure to buy gifts, bake cookies or dress up.  It is low-key, laid back and a day that I eagerly look forward to.

As I write this, I've asked my husband what he thinks of it all.  His response? "Wow, your perspective is really inflated and delusional."  Fair enough! I admit to living in a "happy bubble" but it typically serves me well.   This is how I remember July 4th, how I experience it today, and how I hope my kids will one day recall it themselves.  I hope they will look back and think "Wow.  What fun we had. How awesome it was to be there with Mom and Dad and Mima and Pop-Pop and aunts and uncles and cousins with the flags and fireworks and fun."  I hope they come to appreciate freedom and independence in all of its forms.  Perhaps most of all, I hope they will put a chair out for me so I will always have a good spot to watch the parade! 

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