It's something we've been doing since before I had kids, when I was a kid, actually, around 16 or 17. And it's one of those things that grows more enjoyable, in many ways, with each passing year. I've grown quite dependent on these Independence days.
Of course, things change over time. My grandmother, a staple of these celebrations for so many years, has been gone for five years now. And last year, the party had been cancelled, owing to an illness. My parents own the place with two friends, Cathy and Jim, and Cathy's mother has stopped going, because she spends most of her time in bed, now. Corb couldn't go this year, because he had to work, and I missed him.
Still, it's the touches that endure that I cherish. Chili at two, followed by a paddleboat ride across the pond in the mid-afternoon. Games in the patio of the beach house, and hamburgers at around five. Conversations on the deck. And then, at night, sitting on the beach, watching the firework displays and bonfires taking place across the bay.
Each year has changes and additions, too, of course. This year, my friends Pauline and Jo-Anne. Both of them are heading off to Vermont with us in a few weeks, and they're good company. Jo-Anne knows the value of banter. I like banter. I really enjoyed my conversations with Jim's nephew John, who has been going for many years now, but I've never really spoken to, in depth. It was a nice discovery.
This year, we didn't light a bonfire, but we did have fireworks displays on either side of us, closer than we've ever had before. Our gold standard has always been a fireworks display that Jim's father, who passed away many years ago, set up about fifteen years ago. These were almost as good, although in a laissez faire sort of way, since we had nothing to do with them, directly.
The best part of time is the night time, I think. Sitting in the darkness, in a flimsy folding chair, watching all that's going on around me. Scattered bits of song. Laughter and bickering. Watching the fireworks burst forth, random flickers of light.
I kind of like to think that the ghosts of prior celebrations like to join us at that point. Watching, as I am, those that are assembled, watching all the changes that have taken place. Watching how folks have gotten older, how relationships have changed. Under cover of the darkness, time becomes timeless, years start to blend. This one speck in time becomes bigger than it is, spans the decades, unites for just a moment.
It's the moments of unity that I enjoy most. Under the firework sky.