Small Town Fourth of July

I don’t know about you, but I have a few memories from my childhood that are almost sacred. I don’t know how realistic my memories are, but through the years they have stuck with me as some of the sweetest memories from a very happy childhood. Considering that my husband and I sat for twenty minutes on Wednesday night trying to figure out what we had done between dinner and bedtime the night before (we never did figure it out, by the way– yeesh!), memories that have survived the passage of time and the deterioration of my brain cells have to be pretty special.

Some of my greatest memories are from the Fourth of July fireworks my family used to watch. We would get to the beach early, spread out our blanket in the sand, and then wait wait wait for what seemed like forever until it was dark. Then fire would explode over Lake Michigan, and we would be captivated by its magic. I remember the feel of the warm sand adjusting to my body’s weight under the quilt, the sight of all the other families and their quilts spread out on the beach. I remember the smell of cigarette smoke (that’s a smell my children probably won’t have attached to most of their childhood memories– times have definitely changed!), the sound of kids laughing and music playing as the sun went down.

I hope, that for Ryan at least, last night’s festivities will have a strong part in his memories of childhood. Because it was just so much fun.

Last year, the annual Fourth of July festivities were held right here in Small Town, Iowa. But this year they were held in the neighboring town of Slightly Larger Town, Iowa. The daycare where I happen to work in Slightly Larger Town, Iowa, so my kids have a lot of friends in that town.

We have been talking about moving back to Ankeny, where Art works, to eliminate his commute. Daycare jobs aren’t hard to come by. We have been spending so much on gas that any money we saved by moving out here is just gone anyway. But last night, last night made me love living in a small community so much more. When we do have to make the decision to move, its going to be a very hard decision.

Anyway, I should probably just post the pictures now and stop blah-blah-blahing about my personal life crises. The pictures don’t do it justice, though, just to warn you.

The fireworks were supposed to start at “dusk” so we really had no idea when we should get there. So after a liberal application of bug spray (the mosquitoes are really bad this year thanks to all the standing water), we were off. We parked three blocks from the park where everything was going on, walked over, and parked our quilt on a grassy spot. (Note: grass is not as comfortable as sand, but it will do in a pinch). The boys were extraordinarily excited and were ready for the fireworks to begin immediately.

Look at that face. Isn’t he cute?

I think this one’s pretty cute too. 🙂

There was a live band playing big band style music, so Sam and I (and Christmas Puppy, who came along to see the fireworks) just had to dance.

This is a picture of the band that was playing up until the fireworks started. The two little kids were dancing down there for like half an hour. They were hilarious. Art thought they looked familiar, and turns out they’re kids from our church. (So we’re not the only Regular Baptists who think that sometimes you just have to get up and dance– just don’t tell anyone at Art’s work, okay?)

We had left our quilt and were wandering around socializing when tragedy struck. Ryan bit down funny and his tooth, which had been sitting crooked in his mouth for nearly a week (since tooth #1 vacated the premises), started to bleed. It was totally ready to come out, but he wouldn’t pull it, and even though I’m not as squeamish as my mom is about these things I couldn’t bring myself to do it either. Thankfully this nice lady here, who I had never met before, saw our crisis and volunteered to take it out. Ryan said “It’s not ready!” and she said “Well, just let me look at it,” reached in there, and pulled it out without him even realizing it. The look on his face was pretty funny when he figured out what had happened.

So then we had to go show off the tooth and the empty space in Ryan’s mouth to his friends who were there. These three kids are all in my class at work (which also is Ryan’s class at daycare). They thought the tooth was pretty cool and a little gross.

Once we found all these kids, we pretty much had to move our blanket over to the top of this hill so the boys could play with their friends. Sam’s main entertainment was rolling down the hill and running into people.

Ryan, however, got right in there and asked the girls to dance. Sorry the picture is dark but when I tried to fix it it looked really weird.

He’s not a great dancer,

but the girls didn’t really seem to mind. Three girls at once, huh? We’re going to have trouble with this one. 🙂

They didn’t just dance. They also caught fireflies, rolled down the hill, and ran around screaming things in their little hyperactive five-year-old voices. They had so much fun. But eventually all that was forgotten, because the fireworks were starting.

Ryan hadn’t seen fireworks in three years due to an extreme terror of the loud noise that accompanies them, but this time he was ready. Fortified by the presence of his companions and the lap of his mommy, he watched them without once covering his head. And once he got used to the noise, he thought they were pretty cool.

And this is one of many attempts to get a family picture. Generally speaking, that was a FAIL, but oh well, here we are in all our glory. I hope that twenty-five years from now, when Ryan sits with some little boy or girl on his lap to watch the fireworks, he will tell that child about this night. I hope he remembers it and that over the years it takes on the glow of a precious, well-loved memory.

Happy Independence Day, everyone!


9 thoughts on “Small Town Fourth of July

  1. Awesome pictures! It’s so nice to see people making happy memories for their children. I know this is one that Ryan will remember and treasure!

  2. I have incredible memories from the Fourth of July too. Remember the prime spot we always got for the parade? I remember handfuls of candy being thrown and the high school band playing and marching.

    Makes my heart long for a small town. We had a good time last night, but nothing beats that small town celebration.

  3. Aww….Ashton still does not want the fireworks. I hope a few more years I’ll be able to have that memory!

  4. does it make me a bad mom because i make my kids go whether they were terrified or not cause i refuse to miss them myself?! hehe i don’t know, maybe i guess. but they like them now so i guess that’s a good thing.

    fireworks on the beach? way cool. never got that. but i have lots of those memories too and i, like you, had a very happy childhood and am so grateful for it.

    funny though, most of my memories involve cigarette smoke too *LOL* and neither of my parents smoked. so glad you can’t just smoke everywhere anymore.

    awesome pictures. i may, just might, have to attempt that family photo tonight! (we got rained out last night, we’re gonna try again tonight) you did great at getting four in, let’s see what we can do with six (roll eyes here)

    awesome blog, as always ~ thanks for sharing.

  5. This was a great way to share your 4th of July with me!! Thank you so much for the great story and the pictures. I really enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures. Keep up the great work!!

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