Saturday, July 4, 2009
Fourth of July Weekend
Each year we have to decide where we spend the Fourth of July. Hard life, right? On the one hand, my mom lives right on a major parade route. This parade includes many floats, bands, fire trucks and even the Shriners on their mini motorcycles. She has a large front porch where we set up tables and chairs. We drag the grill up there and we grill up burgers and dogs while watching the festivities. The kids sit on the curb and jump up to collect candy thrown at them. The adults sit back in canvas chairs with a cold soda or beer in hand, and we talk, watch, and eat as the hour and a half long parade passes by. It is alot of fun.
On the other hand, there is Pine Beach. This is where Ed's parents have a house, and they go down there for most of the summer. We join them several weekends, but the 4th is when we know Ed's brother, Jim, and his family will be there. There is a small parade with one band, lots of kids on bikes and many LOUD firetrucks. Then there are races for each age level and gender for the kids to participate in, as well as a peanut scramble. But the best part is the fireworks on the River. We take our chairs and blankets down to the beach, and have a great view of the fireworks display. On top of that, it is fun to spend the time with the relatives, and we usually throw in a day at the ocean.
Last year, it was a doubly hard decision because my sister from France was visiting my parents, and there was uncertainty (as always) about my dad's health. Yet this was the weekend that Ed's siblings had decided to celebrate their parents' retirement. I was especially torn, as I felt that this could be the last 4th on the porch with my dad. But Ed felt it was important to be there for his parents, so we went to the River. We had a great time, but I still can't look at pictures taken by my sisters without a pang. One gets me especially- it is my dad sitting on the steps, surrounded by all of his grandchildren, yet our kids are missing.
All that is to say, this year it was definitely the Glenside Parade turn, but we decided to go to the river anyway. For me, it was too sad to go knowing my dad wouldn't be there with his broad grin, sitting back in his red shirt and red/white/blue hat. It would have been too hard of a reminder of what was missing, and what we had missed last year. And it was a difficult weekend for me. I felt the loss keenly and felt myself close to tears many times as it sunk in that Dad was really and truly gone.
It was fun to go to the River. We started off the weekend with a trip to the ocean. This was the first year that K really could enjoy the waves, and she did! The water was numbingly cold, yet she splashed right in. Ed would hold her hand and she would pull him deeper and deeper, until the waves crashed right into her chest. She would gasp with shock at the force and coldness of water, but even as she wiped the spray from her eyes she would look up at Ed with shining eyes and laugh in delight. We had to pull her from the water to warm her up, and she would scream and kick as we carried her across the sand, pointing at the waves, "Dat water! KK want dat water!". E happily looked for shells and even ventured bravely into the surf with Ed by her side. Meanwhile, N and his cousin Erika were content to play tag with the waves.
The morning of the fourth was cool, but bright. Even as we finished up a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon, we could hear the firetrucks "warming up" their sirens. In a rush we left the dishes for later, and hurried down the street to get a spot to watch the parade. Even though it is a small parade, the kids managed to collect a pocketful of dum-dums and tootsie rolls, which satisfied them.
We fled the scene as the 30 or so firetrucks came screaming down the street for the final 15 minutes of the parade. Following the parade are the races at the park. E and N both ran, and even though they didn't finish anywhere near the top 3, they were proud to receive their ribbon for participating.
That afternoon was spent lounging in the yard as the kids played around us, and then we had a picnic of fried chicken, potato salad and s'mores.
We ended up the evening with a walk to the river where the kids played in the sand as we waited for the fireworks to begin.
K once again showed her love for the water. As soon as we got their she pulled off her shoes and socks and I rolled up her pants so that she could wade in. I think if I had let her she would have gone in deeper, but as it was, I kept a sharp eye on her and she stayed ankle deep.
The sunset was brilliant that night, the colors deepening and becoming richer with each passing minute.
It finally all settled into an inky purple as the first sparks flew up. It was the highlight of the day, and what we had been waiting for, and the experience didn't disappoint. When the last "ooh" had faded, we walked home through the darkened streets. The kids were cranky and ready for bed, so we didn't do the sparklers. After getting them settled, we gratefully sank into our own beds. The day was over, and another year had come and gone.