The 4th of July

When I was a younger, the 4th of July meant family.  All the kids and grand kids would gather to talk, joke, and catch up.

In those days we all lived near each other so there wasn't really much to catch up on, since we already knew everything that was going on. Daddy would grill in the backyard--hamburgers and hot dogs for the kids, steaks for the adults.  We would have the first watermelon of the season.

The afternoon wore on, everyone would go to the park where there was live music and plenty of room to picnic and visit with the same people we saw the day before.  In our small town everyone seemed to know everyone.

As night fell the park would gradually empty, and people traveled to the high school.  The perfect spot to watch the fireworks.  I can't remember them ever being rained out.

I began to feel the change when we started watching the fireworks from my parents porch, because "there's no sense in walking all the way to the school when we can see them from here."

It wasn't the same at all.

Today the family is missing many of its members.  The ones who are left are scattered from Florida to Connecticut.  I will sit in the backyard with my loved ones and  have hamburgers.  If it is one of the few sunny 4ths, we may walk to the park for the fireworks...who knows if we will feel up to the walk to get there.  If not, I will sit and listen for the occasional booms; we live too far from the park to see or hear the other fireworks.  And I will think about home and how much I miss those 4th of Julys and the family the memories bring back.