At any period of your life, did your extended family have big “get-togethers” around
Independence Day? is our question of the week.
As everyone should know by now, I grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs. The Fourth of July was a big deal when I was a kid.
When I was little, and we lived in an apartment in Maryland. My father, mother, brother, sister and I would go to a big park and watch major firework displays. When I was just a bit older, we moved to a house on the Virginia side of the Potomac. We’d go with our father to pop-up firework stands and buy all kinds of fireworks, fountains, spinners, sparklers, Roman candles, you name it. They were inexpensive and although he was normally tight-fisted, Dad would indulge for holidays, and most of our neighbors did the same.
We’d even start early with ‘snakes’, those cubes of compressed carbon which you light and incredibly long, curling snake-like cylinders of ash slowly grow from them. It was my mother’s appeasement of our excitement and the wait for the sky to become dark enough to set off the real fireworks. I still love those snake-things! I think it still evokes my youthful anticipation of something bigger later to come.
When my nieces were small, we’d take them to big firework displays, much like those we attended when I was little. The one year we did our own again in a big way was on the Bicentennial. We have Super 8 films of that night of. We all went nuts making a red, white and blue feast, too.
When my sons were young, we went to big displays because Colorado was not fond of personal fireworks. We had good times, even though on one year an automatic sprinkler system went off and drenched us along with many of the families. At least the weather was hot and we all laughed it off.
Fast-forward a number of years to all of the family moving to Kentucky. My oldest niece and her husband would take huge amounts of fireworks, (large and small), to my sister’s place outside of town. We’d gather and have a big cook-out with many different side dishes and desserts. We’d bring in friends, and sometimes even extended family would travel in.
Alas, those days have gone.
Everyone is scattered. My sons are in and out of town; the niece and her husband work longer hours now, and older members of the family are now gone or are unwell. The grandkids are with their other sides of the family more often than not.
I always hope that they are creating memories as good as the ones that I have.
We’ll celebrate, but quietly.
There is a lot to be said for quiet!