Independence Day Memories

Like many of you, I slept in a little on this 4th of July. As I sat down at my computer to check email and gander at Facebook, just a hint of melancholy came over me. I know why…it’s the 4th of July.

Family Gatherings and Good Grub

More than any other holiday, I have extended family memories of awesome 4th of July gatherings. First, almost every family reunion I ever attended happened on Independence Day. Most of those all happened at my grandparents’ home in Grover Beach, California.

My grandparents lived across the street from an elementary school, which was next to a park and tennis courts. Their yard was the result of years of landscaping, benches, swings and paths, and it was a joy just to drive up to their home.  There were many, many years when those of us living in California would migrate to their home in Grover Beach for the 4th. I could tell you about the reunion activities, talent shows (mostly humor), football and softball games, and the incredible SANTA MARIA BBQ! But my family would come even on many of the years when there wasn’t a family reunion. I remember trips to Bernardo’s (an ice cream shop), Pismo Fish & Chips, flying kites at the school; but what I remember most was the 4th of July fireworks.

 pismo-fireworksA Beach Lit by Independance Day Fireworks

I can honestly tell you that I don’t remember the actual sparks in the sky. I remember the people I was with – my family. Where we viewed the fireworks depended on the weather. Grandma and Grandpa lived on the coast and at times fog would roll in which made it more of a challenge, but on years when the sky was clear we simply walked across the street onto the school grounds.

When I was little, my dad purchased a box of fireworks on numerous occasions and next to the grassy knoll across the street we would set them off. After setting them off, we would wait patiently to watch the city fireworks when the night was clear. When the night wasn’t clear, we would jump in a car or cars and drive to one of Grandma and Grandpa’s friends to watch. A few times we even went right down to the Pismo pier to watch but most years we simply watched from the schoolyard across the street from their home.

One year I remember watching with my cousins, Aaron and Daniel (and about 20 other family folks), and as the fireworks began to go off we had an impromptu “ooh” and “aah” chorus line. We all laughed together as through the entire fireworks show we “oohed” and “aahed”.

 The Board Games and Family Dramatics

One of the funniest memories I have of one family gathering around the 4th of July was when a group of family members were playing Trivial Pursuit. My grandmother was killing everybody in the game. These questions were like “how many stiches on a baseball?” and she knew the answers! My grandmother loved games and she loved to win. If you won a game with her, you deserved to win because she did her best to win. The other thing I must tell you is that my grandma was very intelligent. So while we were mildly surprised at her correct answers, she was absolutely glorying in the moment. About half way through the game, my grandpa walked through the room. He glanced down at the game board and without missing a beat simply said; “I wouldn’t play that with her. She sits and reads through all the questions memorizing the answers.” Grandma sheepishly looked like she had gotten her hand caught in the cookie jar. I can’t remember if the game continued but I do remember my grandmothers’ look and her, “Well…” followed by her explanation of how an elderly person had nothing but time on their hands.

As a young father, and remembering how my Dad set off fireworks, I found myself standing in that same spot with my children holding a similar box of fireworks. We were carrying on a family tradition, and I remember the happiness in my heart watching my kids run around with lit sparklers. When we finished setting them off, we watched the fireworks together.

My grandpa passed on several years ago, and just two years ago, my grandmother passed. Weeks ago escrow closed on their home, and for the first time since the early 1970’s someone other than Curt and Francis Bedlion owns that property.

There are so many other things I could describe. Some bring a smile to my face while others a tear to my eye, but I will share with you how this affects me today. In years past, whenever I felt any emotion I wanted to eat. If I was happy eating was fun. If I was sad it was consoling. I’m sure many of you can understand that this behavior was very detrimental to my health.

The Emotion of the Past effecting my Present

Fast forward to today. I still celebrate but I celebrate deliberately with eyes wide open, understanding that I’m eating because I decided to and not because I’m feeling something. Celebrate today, but don’t overdo it. Have fun, make memories, and be healthy!

By the way, thanks family for all my memories. I love you all.