The 4th of July has always kind of been a big deal to me, ever since I was a small child. My mom and I both have the tendency to become attached to traditions, and holidays in general become major productions for us both. Being a nostalgia junkie, as I have repeatedly mentioned, the opportunities for life-long memory making are vast!
The festive 4th is no exception. When I was very young, our neighborhood put on a 4th of July Parade every year. I would pick out my red, white, and blue outfit months in advance, and my mom would adorn my hair with patriotic barrettes and ribbons. (It is interesting to note that my mom and I are now quite preoccupied with what my daughters are going to wear for the 4th of July each year. I’m quite certain they don’t care nearly as much as we do.) My brother and I would decorate our tricycles, dress up, and join the parade. In my warped memory, this parade was HUGE. Like, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade huge. I’m sure in actuality it was kind of lame.
It’s hard for me to determine which of my 34 4ths of July (4ths of July? Or is it 4th of Julys? Kind of like culs-de-sac, huh? I digress.) qualifies as the “Best Ever.” It’s important for me to rank them, being a big fan of superlatives, so here are some of my most memorable:
- 1983– My first conscious neighborhood parade recollection. See above photo documentation.
- 1985– We spent the evening with my BFF Anne and her family, and the police stopped by their house to reprimand our parents for using illegal fireworks. Anne’s older brother, whom we considered an expert on pretty much everything, came running past the three younger children with an unmistakeable look of terror on his face that will be forever emblazoned in my brain. He announced that our parents were being taken to jail, and we all ran into the house sobbing. In fact, this event inspired one of my first pieces of narrative nonfiction, written in elementary school. I think I may have to dig that one out. (Spoiler Alert! They were not, in fact, arrested.)
- Some random year in the early 90s: My extended family had a reunion, and we all watched the fireworks together. We were also all wearing matching T-shirts. We looked awesome. Sorry I couldn’t find a picture.
- 1999- I was a cool college kid, and spent the holiday at a friend’s parents’ vacation house on the mighty Mississipp’. (Or was it the Missouri River?) During an unfortunate tubing incident, my bikini bottom was sucked off into the river and lost forever. Climbing back aboard the boat was either a moment of great humiliation, or great pride, depending on one’s 20 year old perspective. (Or maybe this happened over Memorial Day. Huh. All those patriotic holidays tend to run together when you are a beer-swigging youth.)
- 2012– I would have to say that last year’s 4th of July will go down in infamy. I swear I did not orchestrate this event in an attempt to recreate the legendary parades of my youth: my then-5-year-old daughter decided we would be entertaining the neighbors with a parade of our own. I cannot do this story any further justice; I wrote a post about it last year, one of my favorites ever, but had to take it down because the story is now published in an anthology. If you want to read Heartbreak and the Young Entrepreneur, you’re going to have to pay for it. That sucks. (I will reinstate it as soon as contractually allowed, next winter. I know you were dying to know.)
So, being the queen of the “Best Evers,” I will now announce my best 4th of July EVER, per the parameters of this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday.
The best 4th of July I ever had was 2010, when my daughter was 3 years old.
It was unseasonably cool that day, and downright cold by evening. Now that I have a second child, I look back fondly at the days when it was just Izzy; the 4th of July that year was one of those special days when it was just the two of us, as Daddy was at work. (As you might imagine, the 4th of July is a big day for the City’s Lion’s Club celebration, and my husband works for the City. I will refrain from sharing any more details about the somewhat People of Wal-Mart-esque attendees of said festival.)
Izzy and I wandered around the park together, chatting with friends, frequenting every last bouncehouse, eating disgusting Lion’s Club hotdogs, and dodging the sweaty drunk people. After it began to rain, we went home to wait for Daddy to come home and grill up our own batch of superior Hebrew National franks.
Izzy had fuzzy memories of the fireworks when she was 2, and we tried our best to explain what “The Show” would be like. Also, we weren’t certain that there would be a fireworks show, thanks to the weather. At the time, we lived in our old house, which was directly across the street from a ballfield and a fantastic annual fireworks delay. Every year we arranged lawnchairs into our backyard, enjoyed a clear view of the magnificent fireworks, and avoided the hellish post-party traffic jam. It was lovely.
We lit a fire in the outdoor firepit, bundled up in blankets, and waited. It felt like we were waiting to see if Santa would show up. Izzy, with her 3-year old wisdom, kept affirming, “You never know if there will be fireworks! Sometimes the fireworks come, and sometimes they don’t!” She continued her pep-talk as we snuggled on the back patio, our eyes glued to the sky.
And the fireworks came. There are very few experiences that compare to the wonder of a preschooler watching her first fireworks show. The chilly weather added to the anticipation and thrilling ambience, and it was one of my favorite fireworks shows EVER.
On a somewhat sad note, the fireworks shows have been cancelled for the past two years in Colorado due to the rampant forest fires. The lack of entertainment is clearly a small price to pay.
Oh, and one more thing! Next Thursday IS the 4th of July, and we will NOT be having Finish the Sentence Friday.
HEY PEOPLE WHO ARE ONLY SKIMMING THIS POST! DID YOU CATCH THAT? THERE WILL BE NO FTSF NEXT WEEK!!! We will catch you on July 11th, at 10 PM EST, and throughout the next day, and the sentence to finish will be, “If I could go back and do something over, it would be…” See you then!
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Next week’s sentence is: “If I could go back and do something over, it would be…”