My husband tried to make the case for a little Independence Day sparkle by telling me about one of his favorite memories from childhood. His grandparents lived by Pine Street Park in Edmonds, where the Fourth of July parade, a backyard picnic and a small supply of fireworks were standard fare. In the early 1980s, beloved Norwegian neighbors moved out of the neighborhood and a retired couple from California moved in. The husband, especially, was overwhelmed with excitement that fireworks were legal in Washington, and spent a small fortune on pyrotechnics. This made him a hero to all of the Pine Street children. Unfortunately, when it came time to set the fireworks off the man almost burned down his house!
Another year a different family near Pine Street Park accidentally lit a tree on fire. When the firefighters came to put it out, they kicked over my husband's own little cache of sparklers in the middle of the street, saying, “Don't you know the neighborhood's on fire?” As an 8-year-old, my husband sassed back, “Yeah! This is the best Fourth of July ever!”
Hearing these stories repeatedly since has helped me sift through the Bardsley family traditions worth keeping and the ones that should be extinguished. Watching the Edmonds Fourth of July parade and having everyone over for a backyard picnic is a keeper. Up-close encounters with firemen are not.
I am still in mourning over the loss of Ezell's Chicken because that use to be part of our family's Fourth of July tradition. Picking up a chicken pot pie at PCC Natural Markets is our new stand-by. Luckily, there are other parts of the holiday that can be reliably counted on year after year in Edmonds.
I know with certainty that I will see at least 20 people I know at the Fourth of July parade, and that half of those people will witness one of my children having a tantrum. I also know that my husband and I will accidentally pick the wrong side of the street for shade. Each year my son will be almost trampled in his feverish pursuit of choking candy that is thrown on the ground. I can also look forward to hearing juicy local gossip, like last year when I heard that the family behind me was spending almost $400 a month for their daughter's Cascade Elite Gymnastics training in Mountlake Terrace.
Once the preschools, politicians, Segways, out-of-town bands and Stormtroopers have passed, our family will pack Daddy up like a Sherpa and join the masses heading to our car. I'm not naming any names, but one year I saw a 3-year-old relieve himself in the bushes. His parents were mortified, but at the time I was thinking, “THIS is the best Fourth of July ever.”
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com.
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