The Fourth of July
Traditions are the sauce in which a medley of years blends together into a single dish called the "Fourth of July."
Traditions string every Fourth from infancy to last year into one grand meld of sand and green water, fried chicken and orange bowknot rolls, relatives I don't know and those I do, squealing bottle rockets and Uncle Walt's harmonica that still lingers over the festivities though he's been gone for a decade. I still have my blue checked jumper and red t-shirt that matches the rest of the family.
Indeed, it is the Fourth's that weren't spent at Aunt Winnie's that stick out in my mind. The year we were waiting for Sarah to be born (she wasn't born for another week, but one of our cows had a calf that day, which we named Uncle Sam and revised to Aunt Samantha when we got a closer look). The year Dad had to work and we watched my weird aunt's friends come close to lighting Grandpa's field on fire. The year I spent most of the day in a hotel room in North Carolina, wishing DOB was online. (I did go to a quite enjoyable party that evening, where I learned several hilarious equipment-free games and that yellow squash makes a terrible pie.)
Last year was the pinnacle of Fourth of July celebrations. DOB came out on one of his rare visits before the wedding. The day was perfectly warm, dry, and sunny. (Generally in Washington summer weather arrives on the Fifth of July.) A musician was playing celtic harp on the ferry up to Whidbey Island. We rowed around the lagoon and got ourselves marooned on a floating dock until some distant cousins came to the rescue. The food was all as it should be, though we almost missed the homemade chicken and got stuck with the stuff somebody picked up at the deli. In the evening we went down to camp to watch several kids under slight supervision by the camp director and my brother (who are technically too old to be kids) set off fireworks wildly in all directions. We narrowly escaped being struck by an errant explosive--instead it hit the camp director in the seat of the pants, to the delight of all.
But this year all that was very far away. We made it to church with Abbey for the first time (though just for the potluck and afternoon service). I couldn't find anything patriotic that fit and seemed suitable for nursing. (Abbey wore her Fourth of July outfit, though.) The potluck was good, but nobody knows how to make orange bowknot rolls out here. We were too tired (well, Abbey and I were) when we got home to go to the band concert or fireworks display in town. So we went to bed. After Abbey went down we tried singing some patriotic songs and that helped, but it still didn't feel much like the Fourth.
Over the next few years no doubt we'll blend our own sauce of traditions that Abbey will look back on and think, "But if we don't do ________________ it won't feel like the Fourth of July!"