Monday, July 13, 2009

Catching Up: Fabulous Fourth

"Hey, Mom!"

I called my mom on the phone just before the Fourth.

"Want to come sit on a hot sidewalk for two hours, sweating and watching tractors? For a bonus, you might get your eardrums blasted out by sirens and get hit in the head with Smarties."

Why do we do this? Every year, I think to myself, It's going to be hot. I want to stay home. I've seen all this before. And every year we go to the parade, barbecue, go to the fireworks. Why do we sit in the blazing heat watching firetrucks and Boy Scouts on bikes? Why do we eat outside in the back yard? And why do we pack everyone up, drive for forty minutes and sit for an hour waiting for a thirty-minute fireworks show then drive home to tuck in tired, cranky, sticky kids?

And every year....We sit on the sidewalk chatting and stealing the Smarties from the kids' candy bags. The people in the parade smile and wave. We see the same tractors and horses that we saw last year. We gather in the back yard, family all together, with good food and good fun. And we sit in the cooling evening next to the river. I remember why I love the Fourth.

This year's highlights:

The parade. Always. There's nothing like a small town parade. No fancy floats here. The veterans wave and salute, farmers bring in tractors, the insurance agent drives his car through town, the churches pass out fliers, the horses and bikes and red-white-and-blue everywhere. People are smiling and waving.

Our guests. It is perfect that our friends from China are here for this oh-so-American holiday. They get to celebrate our country with us. This year I learned that in China, they too celebrate a holiday with fireworks on the riverbank, standing in the gathering dark awaiting the show. It was familiar and foreign to them.

Backyard gathering. It was 93 degrees, but in the shade of the filbert and magnolia it didn't feel like it. Our family was there, the people I love. That's my favorite part. I insisted that someone play Uno with me, so there was an Uno game at the picnic table. The food was delicious, melon salad and chicken and watermelon and macaroni salad and hot dogs, even delicious vegan sausages. And an impromptu talent show, which deserves its own line.

The impromptu talent show. I don't know how this came about, but we held The First Ever 4th Family Talent Show. We had yo-yo tricks, silly acts, a contortionist, singing and even...eating. Come prepared with a talent next year! Note: Eating no longer qualifies as a talent unless you're going to eat something gross or amazing, like bugs or fire.

Fireworks. I grumped about having to go to the fireworks. I groaned. I tried to think of a way to get out of it. In the end, like every year, I went anyway.

And just like every year, settled in the cool evening by the river, surrounded by my family, watching our children play with their cousins.....

I realized (again....when will I learn?) how much I love this holiday. And why. I like the parade and the picnic and even the fireworks. But my favorite parts are the quiet moments, and the silly ones, and even some of the loud ones: The children playing, visiting with the people I love, waving at smiling strangers in the heat, watching the sun set by the river at the end of the day, and even tucking in tired, cranky, sticky children.

Life is good.

Pictures of last year's Fourth here, featuring the same old dude on the same tractor, and the same firetruck too. Oh yeah, same kids too, just shorter.


Sara said...

It looks like fun. Glad to hear something from you.

Brenda said...

Family is the best! Have a great summer, Cat!