I imagine Independence Day in 1776 looked a little different than Independence Day in 2018. Do you suppose they went home, fired up their grills and lounged by the pool sipping iced down drinks after they dropped their “John Hancocks”? (Did you see what I did there? Ha!) Maybe they attended the local township’s fireworks that night, while sporting their fresh sunburns from an afternoon by the pool; don’t forget the bloated bellies from chugging beer and grazing on glorious munchables all day? Possibly they just shot some fireworks in the back yard, while saying “Hear ye, set thou gaze upon this spectacle of which I am about to manifest” in the most distinct British accent…cue loss of fingers or limbs. But I’m pretty sure that is not how the rest of their day went.
Almost as much has changed from my childhood memories of the 4th of July to how we will celebrate this year.
My earliest memories of 4th of July include slurping watermelon juice while chomping on sweetness; spitting seeds at unsuspecting cousins. The chilly goodness of hand cranked homemade icecream as it rolled across your taste buds. Swimming in the pool all day with no responsibility whatsoever other than to not pee in the pool…or at the bare minimum, make certain no one knew. (Ha!) Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles manned the grills, icecream makers, long knives for cutting watermelon and the kitchen sink full of dishes. (Lord at the dishes with our huge family back then.) Dad’s grilled ribs were almost more 4th of July to me than fireworks. But the nearly perfect day was always completed by taking our sun burned shoulders and rosy cheeks to watch the City of Troy’s fireworks display. Just wonderful times filled with people you loved and who loved you in return, laughter, full bellies, American flags fluttering, slapping and popping in the warm breeze and of course, the red, white and blue spinners clacking from forced air as us kids ran with their sticks clutched tightly in our hands.
Then enter “adult” 4th of July. Dad and Mom moved into a new home several years ago, big enough to hold many people comfortably and they decided to begin holding 4th of July at their home. Kid laughter emerged all day from the red neck swimming pool; you could expect cold, wet splatters if you were an adult and dared to walk too close. Neighbors, family, friends, acquaintances, all gathered to join in one accord to celebrate our nation’s freedom. The adult version of Independence Day looked more like hauling food from one location to the next to make it all fit on the counters, refilling tea and lemonade pitchers, hauling trays of food from the grills, reminding the kids not to pee in the red neck swimming pool, making a point to catch a minute to watch the kids play as it brings so much joy to see their joy, killin’ it on the volleyball court but chugging water and popping ibuprofen because you’re old and the volleyball court might actually be killin’ YOU. (It was a toss up. Ha!) Adult Independence Day nights are for lawn chairs and fireworks; sitting by your mama, splendidly exhausted from the day, and thoroughly satisfied knowing everyone had a great time and enjoyed themselves.
As for Independence Day 2018…we will eat…we will be with a few family and friends…we will watch the fireworks splendidly displayed over the City of Troy…and on Saturday we’ll get together with a few more friends and family to celebrate. But the main difference this year is that my sweet Mama will get to see what the tops of those fireworks look like. We know full well what they look like underneath from years of gazing at them in awe of their deafening beauty. I suspect this year’s fireworks will look a little less splendid, the laughter will be a little more subdued, the atmosphere of excitement a little less charged. This Independence Day, I will have to allow the cherished memories of years past to carry me through the day’s activities and fill in the gaps where sadness from her loss leaves a hole.
Sipping coffee for now, though the heat will soon dictate I change over to iced water and with teary-eyes praying my sweet Mama enjoys her first year above the fireworks; hope they are spectacular Mama. ~paula