by Caren Crane
So, yesterday was a major holiday in the USA, Independence Day. Like most families, we've developed a rather sloppy set of "traditions" surrounding this holiday. My husband and I often didn't realize we had a "tradition" until we were in danger of not fulfilling our childrens' expectations and got an earful about it. Who knew? Most of these evolved from desperation and convenience.
Desperation: finding something to do with the bored children. Now, my youngest is pushing 15, so I have no "young children" anymore. However, teenagers get as bored (or moreso) than kids of other ages, so we still find ourselves looking for things to entertain them. Fortunately, we've most past getting up at the crack of dawn to get in the face painting line at the "old-fashioned" Fourth of July celebration down the road, followed by standing in the blazing hot sun to watch the kids ride their decorated bikes in the "parade". Those were tough years, because somehow my husband managed to weasle out of it and I was left to have all the "fun". Sometimes it was fun, but usually it was hot and there was no bathroom in sight and I ended up sunburned despite my best efforts. That "tradition" was one to which I happily waved goodbye when the desperation levels subsided.
Convenience: fireworks that can be seen from a vantage point at the grocery store parking lot just down the road. The suburban town where we live has a huge symphony concert and fireworks display in an outdoor amphitheater that is about two miles from our house as the crow flies. Because of the proximity, we and many other families skip all the brouhaha surrounding the amphitheater and simply camp out in one of a number of parking lots for the fireworks display. That's all fine and well, as long as you park in the right place and don't get caught in the traffic exiting the amphitheater afterward. Convenient, yes, and also fun.
These days, however, my husband and I are more inclined to hang out and talk with friends than pack the kids up in the van and hustle off to see fireworks at 9 pm. As a result, last night we had friends over and were busy watching the end of one of our favorite movies (Moonstruck) when we heard the fireworks start. The youngest (who is, as mentioned, almost 15), was in a panic. I tried to do my motherly duty and a few minutes later we were packed in the car and heading up to the display. This year, however, our state is experiencing huge budget deficits, so all the towns apparently shortened their displays. We did see quite a few lovely displays (as well as some neighbors were launching, despite the laws against it) and we saw the "finale"...through the trees.
I have, dear friends, endured the tears and silent treatment from the youngest ever since. *sigh* Thus my holiday hangover. Sadly, there was no alcohol involved.
So what about you? Have you ever brought on your own holiday hangover? Not bought the "must have" gift? Forgotten the kids' favorite "tradition"? Neglected to bake someone's favorite pie? Please, tell me I'm not alone!