Happy Independence Day!
Today, I celebrated in what felt like Groundhog Day fashion with the same old tried-and-true Fourth of July traditions that have been played out year after year in my family.
^ Always I'm compelled to create backyard banners in red, white and blue
^ Classic summer barbecue dinner always spring forth from the grill.
^ And an evening spent at a nearby park, always the same location for watching our small-town fireworks display. Just like always, we spread out our blankets and snacked hardcore while waiting for the sun to go down and the fireworks to start.
Always, always, our celebrations are exactly the same.
But as I sat in the gathering twilight, scrolling on my phone as my Oreo-eating daughters scrolled on theirs, I came across a photo that set me back on my heels.
^ This photo of family friends, whose four kids are almost exactly the same age as mine, knocked me right out of my rut. Looking at their adorable baby faces, I could more clearly measure the passing of the years - decades - and I was reminded of something important.
Life never stands still.
No matter how much my holiday traditions may seem the same to me, I was forgetting some fairly major memories.
Like the year when my two-year-old had just decided to start potty-training that very day, and I was on pins and needles all during the fireworks, wondering what the heck I was going to do if she needed to go while we were out. (She held it the whole time. Crisis miraculously averted.)
And the times I front-packed my infants throughout the big evening, cuddled my frightened toddlers who were overwhelmed by the noise, and let my older girls run wild on the grassy lawn before the show began. And let's not overlook the early teen years when I broke up a few bickerfests and sent people on various missions to keep the pre-fireworks energy flowing smoothly.
When the girls got older, we branched out and tried some new venues. Twice, I think, we braved the major crowds at Gasworks Park, the biggest show in Seattle, just to see how the city folks spent the Fourth.
And then there was the year we trekked down to watch the show from my husband's advantageously located office in Fremont, bringing a big picnic dinner and several high school boyfriends in tow. I prayed that the hormones would not explode before the show began.
Life never stands still, and despite what my oversimplifying brain may tell me, my Independence Day celebrations have not gone stale either.
The only thing that has truly stayed the same through all these years is the people with whom I celebrate.
Oh, and the fireworks. They're just as beautiful as I always remember.