Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tried and True

The 4th of July parade has been a tradition in our community since July 4, 1879.  It is the longest running 4th of July parade west of the Mississippi river and both President Harry Truman and President George H. W. Bush have participated in the festivities.  Local news stations cover the event and people come from all around to take part in, or simply watch, this piece of history in action.


Our family, along with thousands of others, has taken the responsibility very seriously in keeping the tradition going.


Most people in our area have memories of the parade rooted deep in their upbringing.  Steven has a picture of him in the parade as far back as the late 1970's and and recent as 1999.  I have pictures of my own throughout the years and can only remember missing one parade, in 1994, when I had to work.

In fact, on the way home from the parade, my husband asked me "Do we go to the parade because we like the parade, or do we go to the parade because that is just what we do?"




After considering the record heat this year......




I decided that it is just what we do


Traditions are traditions.  Enjoying them isn't ALWAYS a requirement.  Being with family is.


Although I am pretty sure my grandpa, who is 93, immensely enjoyed the tradition in the air-conditioned comfort of his "float".


And the kids immensely enjoyed seeing themselves on the local news that evening.

Of course, I always knew they were stars.....

Friday, July 06, 2012

Village People


This summer seems to be flying by.  It always does that.  I spend the latter part of winter and early part of spring dreaming of days that are spent idly in, or by, the pool, hanging out with kids and soaking up the leisure of summer.

And then reality sets in.

And the reality is that summer is not leisurely.

Of course, B's birthday falls in the middle of the summer madness.  He couldn't decide what exactly he wanted to do to celebrate and ultimately, he ended up deciding to just have his friends over to play.  I thought that this was a brilliant idea.  What is life without friends?

We decided that water would definitely be part of the occasion. 

 

B had decided that coke from a glass bottle was also essential to his celebration and he wanted all of his friends to be able to take their bottles home, although I don't think that they were as excited about that as he was.  Most 7 year olds aren't concerned with nostalgia and the way things used to be.

But B is.

And his friends know that.

I overheard many telling him, "You can have our bottles if you would like."



In the spirit of turning 7, and being friends,  they had a toast of Coca-Cola and Root Beer.



(I love this kid.)


And you know what you start doing when you turn 7?

You shave.

Ok.  Not really.

But they did enjoy playing in the shaving cream.....


Is that a beard  and chest "hair" already?  He is growing up too fast!!

I am not ready for this......





After playing, B opened his gifts.  He had asked for money to be given to our school's backpack program, but some friends had generously sent gifts as well. 

I am so proud of B, and who is he is growing up to be.  His sister, L, has donated money from her birthday for the last few years, but B wasn't really there yet.  He had still wanted 'toys' and 'presents' and a big party, and I remember being the same way. 

But this year there has been an obvious shift in his way of thinking.  Although he still has moments of self-centeredness, which is typical for a boy his age, he is having more moments of thinking about others.  I can not take credit as his parent. In fact, I credit the many good examples that my children are surrounded with for this growth; good and caring people that exemplify that life is not about what you have, but who you have.

And that makes me happy.

He makes me happy.

****************

Also typical for boys his age?

The desire to build, construct, make things work....

.....and to goof off.


****************

That evening, after his buddies went home for the day, we loaded up picnic supplies in the truck and went down the road to my cousin Johnny's campground where our family, and friends that are like family, were going to join us for B's birthday hot dog and weenie roast. 

Johnny had been working on clearing out a bluff by his house for some time.  He had built restrooms and other facilities to accommodate his friends that would come camp out, play music, and have a good time.  B loved visiting the campground and had wanted to have his birthday party there for sometime and this year seemed perfect.

Everything about Johnny's house was just fun.

For the last few years B has enjoyed going down to Johnny's house and 'visiting' an old race car that Johnny had acquired.  Someone had brought the car to Johnny's house for keeping and had pulled it out in the area beside his shop and left it for dead.  Weeds had grown up around it, but this didn't deter B.  Steven or I would take B down to Johnny's and pull behind his house.  B would jump out and go sit in the car and pretend to race, while I would cringe and hope that a snake didn't come out from under it.  From the excitement that B experienced, one would never know that he wasn't actually racing and that the car never moved.  He swerved and wrecked and had stories for each dent in the side.  Johnny would wave, knowing what we were there doing, and often times, he would come out and visit, and talk to B about the race he had just driven in.

Johnny's imagination is as big as B's.

Johnny had told us ahead of time that he planned on pulling the old car to the campground so that B could sit in it and play in it during his birthday party. 



Little did we know that not only would the car be at the party, but that Johnny would drive it there.

You see, a few days before B's party, Johnny called and alerted Steven that he had something he wanted to show him.  As we loaded up the car, headed to the kids' ballgame, we turned towards Johnny's house, only to meet him, and his wife, Kathy, IN THE RACE CAR.

B's eyes nearly flew out of his head.  He never imagined that the car would ever run again.

Truth be known, neither did Johnny. 

But with excitement of a kid, Johnny had went to work, pinpointing what was wrong with this old, stationary car, and within an hour, had it running.  B inspected it and got the low down from Johnny on the in's and out's of it.



It was then that B received a gift that he would, in B's words, "remember for the rest of my life".

Yes.  Johnny fired up the car and took B on a ride. 

A wild ride.

While B crouched in the back, holding on to roll bars, Johnny drove to the bottom and 'stood on it'.  I was too nervous, and shocked, to even think to take a picture, much less a video.  I squealed in delight, and fear, as Johnny cut donuts across the bottom at speeds that seemed much too fast.

I worried that B would be scared, but as the car came back into sight, the "thumbs up" I saw through the side window set my mind, and heart, at ease.



(The quilt mom made for B)



After roasting hot dogs and B's belly was filled, he asked Johnny if he would take him on a ride again sometime.  Johnny said, "Sure!  Let's go now!"  And for the second time in the evening, B experienced the stuff his dreams were made of. 

Upon his return, my mom, B's Mimi, jumped in and wanted to go on a ride of her own.  During her ride, the car experienced some difficulties and had to be jump started.

Riding on the enthusiasm and energy of the evening, B and Steven were quick to respond, running and jumping in our old Ford Ranger and heading out across the bottom with hazard lights flashing, horn honking, all while doing some donuts of their own.  There wasn't one person there that wasn't laughing uncontrollably at the show going on before their very eyes.

After being jumped with help from the pit crew, Johnny limped the car back to the campground with promises of getting it back and going again soon and B thanked him, earnestly, for giving him the time of his life.....



And then we ate the cake Linda had made for B that was topped, appropriately enough, by a picture taken two years ago of B standing proudly along side "his" race car.

I really think we all had the time of our lives that night and I am continually amazed at the way that we are blessed by those around us- our friends and our family.  It really does take a village, and fortunately, our village is a great one to live in.