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Family Traditions

It’s Independence Day weekend, and for the twelfth year in a row, we have no plans to do any of the traditional things that families and folks do during the holiday.  When we moved in 2004 from Oregon away from hubby’s family and friends, we left behind most, if not all of our social life.  We have found in our late 30s and 40s, it’s not as easy to find folks with as much in common with us as we did when we were younger. We don’t have children, so we don’t really relate to couples that do.  So, we end up spending most of our holidays with my mom.

Most folks think of cookouts, beaches, fireworks and family for Independence Day celebrations, myself included.  My family would always have a get together with my parents’ friends, and we would be dragged along and, despite vociferous objection, end up having a great time.  My mom always made her baked beans, slow baked in a stoneware bean pot, and usually a macaroni salad.  My dad and our gracious host would be in charge of the grill, while the ladies worked in the kitchen to finish up the assembly line of goodies. My brothers and I would swim until we were called for lunch, and afterwards play a game of lawn darts, the ones that were recalled because someone decided they were too dangerous.  Before dark, we would all head back to our hometown, by the beach for fireworks and sangria (well, the adults got the good stuff.  I usually got to have a Tab, which was a special treat.) The display was nowhere near what is done on the 4th today.  Just simple, one at a time fireworks that lasted almost an hour, with big, tummy-sickening booms and pretty lights.  Sometimes, they would scream.  Mom called those, “screaming mimis.”

When we all got older and no longer did the cookouts, one of the new traditions we started was watching NASCAR races on the holiday weekend. It was my older brother who actually started this tradition, and he was usually found at the annual picnic glued to the television, watching the race by himself. Eventually, the whole family would watch the race, settled in and cheering for our favorites.  We even had a hometown favorite on the national race stage that we watched every week, hoping that he would do his biggest fan (my brother) proud.  This was back when the majority, if not all of the races took place during daylight hours, because tracks just weren’t set up for evening races like they are today.  Over the years, I’ve lost my taste for watching the races, and the fact that most of the drivers I grew up watching have long retired contributes to my waning interest.  But I will still usually watch both races at Daytona, and both races at Talladega, AL.  This is the one family tradition that I still adhere to, mostly because it doesn’t require that I have friends that share this interest.  I guess one tradition is better than none.

Wherever this weekend takes you, and whatever you do for the holiday, I wish for you to stay safe, enjoy yourselves, and make memories with your families and friends.  God bless America.

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