The seasons of our life direct our activity choices. Some of our traditions are ones we can keep and some need a bit of tweaking to make them work in a particular time of life.
When I was a little girl, we always spent the 4th of July at my gramma’s house. She had a model A Ford and we often rode in parades to celebrate our country’s independence. After we finished the parades and throwing candy to other children from the rumble seat, it was back to Gramma’s. The holiday always included homemade ice cream churned by hand in the crank style ice cream maker. The clasp was broken so each grandchild took turns sitting on the ice cream maker atop a towel to keep the lid on. So if you weren’t cranking, you had a rotation of sitting on the lid. True team work.
There were ( and still are) so many events available to celebrate Independence Day that it is hard to know what was best for our family. I would have to say that the stages in our family have determined our yearly plan. One year we attended a parade in a small town near us. It was a chore to haul all of our chairs, water bottles, and child supplies through the streets to make our little nest on the sidewalk. (You know how that goes.)Though the parade was fun, it was exhausting. Another year, we went to a fireworks show. We had a different list to pack and haul in for an evening show but we found the exit to be the most cumbersome. The fear of losing one of our kids in the dark night amongst the large crowd that were all exiting after the show at the same time was real.
We decided to bring our Independence Day festivities home. We didn’t scrimp on celebration but we did cut down on the stress of it all. Each year we invite other families over and the activities can be just as diverse as the crowd. One year we blew up a refrigerator in our field and another year my son in law brought a pig over to attempt a pit BBQ (details of that adventure could fill it’s own post!).
We have streamlined our little jamboree and kept it to what is reasonable for our family. We keep the food simple. Hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon and potato salad are the basics. Other families bring side dishes and we often end the evening with root beer floats or s’mores. We set up the slip and slide and go way overboard on the sugar.
One event that has become a highlight and a tradition is our “reverse parade”. Of course, if you GO to a parade, the children line the sidewalks and are the recipients of candy as the floats go by. We decided that as an activity each year, all the kids would decorate their own “floats”. So, anything with wheels is brought out. Out comes the box of streamers, balloons, flags and face paint. We go through rolls of tape and string and give the kids full freedom to create. The building of their floats can take hours if they want it to, the rule is “parents don’t help.”
When the parents and teens are ready, with bags of candy in hand, WE line the driveway for the parade to begin. The children line up on their floats and march or scoot past us as we all wave flags and sing along with the patriotic music being blasted from my husband’s truck. One time past us is just not enough, we have the kids go back and forth, making at least 3-4 passes (enough time for photo ops) then on cue, the spectators start throwing candy INTO the PARADE. The children of course drop their bikes, leap out of their cars and start gathering the candy.
We have never heard of anyone else doing a parade like ours, but doing things differently is part of what makes each family unique! There may be a day in our future when we pack everyone up and attend a town parade or maybe even go to a fireworks display. But for now, staying home gives us a lot of freedom for the parents to visit and the kids to roam free.