You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.Erma Bombeck
4th of July is almost here and I’m also in the process of selling the family house where I have so many memories of July 4th picnics. This house is the last physical connection to my childhood.
When I was growing up, we lived in one house, with an empty lot next door. My Aunt and Uncle lived in the house on the other side of the house. (And before they lived there, it was my Grandmother’s house.)
4th of July picnics were a big family affair of sisters, brothers, Aunts, Uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Lot’s of cousins. Every year. There would be tables of food, tables with cribbage boards, horseshoe pits, and badminton nets…and let’s not forget the keg in the garage!
The picnic was mainly at my Aunt’s house, since that was originally our grandparents house. The pool was at our house and in between would be the horseshoes and badminton. My brother in law would announce his entrance each year by throwing an M-80 in the sewer drain at the corner.
Eating, drinking, playing, laughing, and repeating. That was the name of the game. And then each night we would gather on my parents’ porch to watch the fireworks coming over the top of the trees. We had front row passes. Years later, the fireworks would move to another section of town and we’d have to jump in cars and drive over to a cousin’s house.
When I was a teenager, my cousin built his house in the empty lot next door, but the picnics continued. They continued until my Aunt and Uncle died. And then it all faded away. First, my Aunt and Uncle’s house sold. Then my cousin sold his house and moved to the other side of town. But my parents stayed.
My ex-husband and I tried to revive the picnics when we bought a house, but new traditions had already been built and while some joined, not everyone could make it. And again the picnics faded away.
My father died in 1999 and my mother at the beginning of this year. And now it’s time to sell the house. The last house left of what I affectionately referred to as the family compound.
In some ways it’s sad, and in other ways, it’s so appropriate that the closing will be just a few days after the 4th of July.
You can read What I Miss on 4th of July, a post I wrote in 2015.