Really, I stole my love of Independence Day from old roommate, Lola.
With pride and giggles and glistening smile she’d parade across our Scotts Valley living room, belting out “America the Beautiful” while inviting those in the crowded living room to do the same. Americana stars and stripes bed sheet hugged her curves like a dress, her hand held an unlit sparkler while in her hair a tinseled crown rested in celebratory wait.
Truthfully, she’s just one of those charismatic people who invites others in to join the party, to drop their grilled chicken and steak and tofu pups, to put the Blue Moon aside for a moment, and to climb up on the roof to watch the fireworks show.
Because we can.
Because it’s important to remember to live.
Because it’s necessary to suck the marrow out of life for just one night.
So even though the 4th has come and gone, and apparently this hailed holiday post is at best a week late, it’s still worth celebrating. It’s still worth the memory.
It’s worth remembering block parties as a child – of marshmallow-mayonnaise-nutty jello salad, and dripping slices of watermelon, and Dad bloodying his eye out with his own homemade slingshot.
It’s worth thinking about how the evening was the epitome of togetherness on our hometown block; barricading off each end of the street with sawhorses, we’d run in the streets, in childlike glee and play, free to be for just for a few hours.
And it’s worth a magical reflection to wonder how it never seemed to rain in Oregon that whole day or night. Then, bundling up in blankets and Dad’s oversized flannel shirts, we’d huddle in lawn chairs in the driveway, writing our names in the air with sparklers while the daddies braved the fire in the middle of the street.
Fast-forward a few years, and it’s worth a “remember” or two to think about those many summers at camp.
It’s worth remembering Fruitworks: how Lenny Kravitz’ “American Woman” blared in the background while Americana-clad superheroes threw watermelons and cantaloupes while flying across the air on a zip line. It’s worth stealing such a lovely idea from a month at Young Life camp to eventually find its cozy home in the world of Covenant camping just a few summers later.
(And that’s when I say a simultaneous Thank you and You’re welcome).
It’s worth remembering how we for-the-love-of-all-county-fire-laws weren’t allowed to shoot off fireworks – but for the love of camp, could plant ourselves in the branches of the trees and flash our flashlights to the tune of “The Star Spangled Banner.” We could give those kids the best damn campy 4th of July they’d ever experienced.
So this summer, Cancan and I found ourselves away from the HBH, but with family nonetheless. Sister did what she creatively does best: she magically looks at food, and then delectably dreams it into being – so although we didn’t have the marshmallow-mayonnaise-nutty jello salad of our youth, we did have potato salad and deviled eggs and gooey, cheesy burgers on the grill.
We watched our almost-toddler babies interact, and we played lawn games, and then we surveyed the trees overhead, mindful of the many Smoky the Bear lessons instilled within our northwest minds as children – for, only YOU can prevent fire fires!
And then we went to bed early, because babies make us tired and sun wears us out and we’re grown-ups now, so we can go to bed whenever we want.
But the end result was the same: like the many summers before it, whether at home or at camp, the day was surrounded by family and friends, by smiles and laughter and memories and togetherness.
And, with that rare, perfect bit of Washington sunshine as well, made it just altogether lovely.
What about you? How was your 4th of July? What are your Independence Day memories made of? …And remember, I’d love to hear your Celebrating Summer stories – submit an essay today!0