The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love 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 offers 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:
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 kind of parade that draws a crowd from all over our great state but features floats from each of our small-town elementary schools. The kind 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 July 4th as much as i do. I kind of think of it as his day. He grew up in the same charming town where I was raised and he shares many of the same memories I now have. In addition to the the typical fanfare, our July 4th has always been a day for family and friends; I can 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 celebration 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 a 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.
Of course, now that I have five kids of my own, the 4th of July, like most days, is prone to the shifts in plan that kids sometimes necessitate. Last night, for instance, we had to head home before the fireworks began because one tiny tot had a raging fever, our little miss had a tummy ache and our 95 pound dog quite literally jumped into someone's lap when the first firework exploded in the distance. Even so, it was a great day and I hope our kids will one day have as much fondness for July 4th as I do. I hope they come to appreciate freedom and independence in all of its forms. And, 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!