The reason that I’m writing this Little Bird Blog is to share stories that are not in my book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir; and if not stories then thoughts and ideas I have during the week that relate back to the people in the book. As I was thinking about the fact that this is the Fourth of July weekend coming up I remembered the fireworks and then the light parade. Okay, now I have to explain.
I wondered to myself why we have fireworks for the fourth of July. And then it hit me that they simulate the noise and thunder of cannon being fired and the smoke that the soldiers experience in war. The fourth of July is our memorial celebration of this Nation’s intention to become independent, allowing us to be free thinkers. We fought hard for that right. So now what about the actual celebrations?
When I was a little girl, four maybe five years old, my mother, Jordan Elizabeth would see to it that we all went to the town display of fireworks. I was so frightened and my mother loved them so much that I had to sit between her knees and suffer through it. She would take her blanket and put it over my head and tell me to cover my ears that it soon would be over. But she loved them so much I could hear the “Ahs!” and “Ohs!” as fireworks thundered on in spectacular display. Of course I had to peek. And later as I got older I didn’t need the blanket.
Now, we fast forward to my children and grandchildren. The early years with my first family are such a blur you’d have to ask the children how we celebrated. But much later when they were grown up and gone Sy and I would step outside our door
on Honey Lane, in the senior community in Nerme, Connecticut where the elevation was high enough that we could see the fireworks being set off on the beach a mile away from the street in front of our house. Since we were the first to move into that community it took our neighbors time before they figured out why we were standing in the middle of the street. Soon we all brought out lawn chairs to watch. That way we didn’t have to fight the traffic down by the shore. The best of all worlds; except we missed the ground displays.
As you will read in A Bird and the Dragon we moved from Honey Lane to an old duplex in the center of Nerme when we invited my daughter, Felicia and her husband, Chris, to come with their children to live with us. Annabelle, this snuggly old house was a block back from Main Street and two blocks from the beach. We could gather up our blankets and flashlights, lawn chairs and nibbles, and sneak through the back fence onto Main Street. It was a short walk from there to the open
field to the left of the beach and just behind the Episcopal Church. Everyone spread out their blankets and pillows. The snacks were plentiful and the kids could yell and scream as much as the neighbors would tolerate. From here we could see the ground displays as well as the heaven sent fireworks. And the best part was we could walk home while the cars struggled. Some of the smaller children in the neighborhood group were tired by now and wanted to be carried. Poor Markey Mark, one of my Cavalier King Charles dogs had to wear his Thunder Shirt even though he was two blocks away safe at home. Cara Cozy the other dog was her composed self through it all.
But the fun times weren’t just in the summer. Nerme has a tradition of what they call the Light Parade that is celebrated early in December. All the merchants from the town and neighboring towns round up whatever floats they can find and then
decorate them with marvelous themes. These are advertisements for the businesses or representations of Christmas stories done with lots of colored and blinking lights. The school marching bands play as the riders on the floats throw candy to the children. Because our home was only a block back from the street, Felicia would make up a giant thermos of hot chocolate, pack a can of Reddi Whip or Marshmallow with a spoon and sometimes we’d bring cookies as well. Once we got there we’d set up our lawn chairs in the driveway of the bank, wrap ourselves in blankets and wait for the parade to start. The first year we did this Nicole, my upstairs granddaughter, was only two. And for some reason she decided that she did not want to wear mittens nor gloves or anything on her little hands. Felicia tried to get Nicole to pull her arms back into her jacket sleeves to protect those hands but Nicole was not buying it. She’d protest and fling the mittens off. –Now, those hands shape beautiful sculptures. Who would have guessed?!!
Isn’t it interesting that we as a people choose lights and loud noise to help us celebrate the longest days of the year and then again the shortest days of our year. Both activities create a feeling of excitement and magic. Although with the blanket over my head at four I didn’t feel the magic—except maybe radiating from my mother’s joy.
What are your traditional Fourth of July family celebrations?
Lobster and corn on the cob
or potato salad and hot dogs? It is indeed fun to reminisce.