The Fourth of July is almost here, but it is much different as an adult. What happened to the Fourth of July of my youth?
As a child, summer was an event, full of activities, summer camp, travel, and playing outdoors. The long days I loved, early morning swimming lessons in cold Lake Michigan at 8:00 a.m., no wonder I had to take the beginners class four times. June until the end of August seemed like a mini lifetime.
Where we grew up in Northern Michigan, summer was a big deal, and relatively quite short in real time vs. kid time, as I still remember seeing the first leaf turn bright orange at the top of a tree, every year at the beginning of August. The beauty of our small town of Harbor Springs with its pristine streets of bungalows and Victorian inspired cottages, window boxes of orange-red geraniums and that deep blue lake as a backdrop to everything, was the Fourth of July signaled the start of summer. It was the most festive time of year.
People stood ten deep to watch the parade, and still do. The High School band, kids showcasing their bicycles or tricycles all decked out in red,white & blue, antique cars and the local military drum and bugle corps, made the Fourth of July Parade a must attend event. Everyone came together, the most people ever in our town at one time occurred every year on the Fourth of July.
Practically everyone dressed in some form of red, white and blue. We were patriotic, had no real worries, racial profiling wasn’t in the vernacular and the modern negativity hadn’t yet unfurled. Everyone ate ice cream, without counting calories or thoughts of peanut allergies.
The deep green taffeta dress was my great, great grandmother’s and I wore it on the Fourth of July in 1976 in celebration of the Centennial.
What mattered was we appreciated life and proudly displayed the flag. We honored the country and our military by celebrating with gusto the Fourth of July. We lived looking forward not over our shoulder. I suppose many of us from generation to generation miss the innocence of youth.
I still will wear some form of red, white and blue but really I miss making and eating guilt-free banana splits at my grandparents house as our Fourth of July dessert. The reality was this was often my second helping of ice cream of the day since we usually stopped for ice cream after the morning parade in the neighboring town.
The Fourth of July is different now, though we still honor the past. This year we will be celebrating with friends and guess who is in charge of dessert? I’m making ice cream.