July 4, 2021


Happy Independence Day!  Ten years ago today, we were all together for the weekend and Charlotte invited the boys to join her in their family holiday parade at their neighborhood park.  It was a sweltering Monday morning and we transported boys, cars and strollers to Elkins Avenue to prepare.

I had gotten matching t-shirts for the three older grandkids—imprinted with a U.S. flag and the words AMERICAN Sports 2011.  For the parade, neighborhood kids were encouraged to decorate bikes, tricycles or anything else.  There were going to be medals for the top entries!

Charlotte had been busy planning her decorations for her tricycle—flags, balloons, noisemakers. She was pretty confident she could win! After all, this wasn’t her first rodeo.

Sam and Eli weren’t so shabby, either.  They had some pretty awesome pedal cars—hand-me-downs from Tom Turner’s boys.  In this photo, Sam is all decked out in his car with balloons and starry sparklers.

And here’s Eli having a blast as he drives down the sidewalk in his car decorated with blue balloons. The whole family tagged along as we looped around the park in the heat.

Ezra was 11 months old and probably staying a bit cooler as his mom pushed him along in his stroller with a sunshade.  He started out with a cute white hat on, an American flag and some of the sparkly stars.  He valued comfort above all, so he removed the hat and just kicked up his bare feet, smiling happily all the while.  And look who won the medal! I guess babies have an edge! Charlotte was pretty disappointed, thinking Ezra hadn’t shown nearly as much creativity as she had.

Trying to get one post-parade photo of the three older grandkids was just too challenging.  They were hot and tired, and just ready to go home.  Charlotte was still miffed about the medal, and I think Eli’s clenched lips and Sam’s squint and posture clearly say that it’s over!

My favorite childhood memories of July 4 were drinking pink lemonade, eating watermelon and watching a few firecrackers and sparklers in the driveway with Jerry, Joe and Bill. Five years from today—in 2026—America is supposed to celebrate its 250th anniversary.  I sincerely hope it will be a more just and united country by then.  There is much work to do to make that a reality.  And just think, Sam and Eli will be 21, Ezra 16 (as they are now) and Charlotte almost 20!  Three of them will already be responsible voters and Ezra might even be driving! Mercy!  Can’t we just go back to the park for some pink lemonade and watermelon?

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