Growing up, the 4th of July was nearly as exciting as Christmas -minus the presents and Santa Claus.
We would most generally be at a picnic or barbecue at an aunt’s house where an abundance of delicious food created a dazed state of over-stuffed bliss. Those who could still move beyond a waddle would engage in some sweat-inducing activity like volleyball or baseball.
As the afternoon wound down, we would hurry to watch (and sometimes participate) in our hometown parade. Our tiny little town went all out for the 4th of July. There would be a parade, activities in the park followed by a rodeo. It was the one time of year that there was a flurry of activity happening and everyone wanted to be a part of it.
The rodeo was like the cherry on top of a perfect-day sundae. One year in particular I remember getting a new belt to wear to the rodeo. My dad got it for me at the local shoe shop. Stepping inside was like stepping back in time where everything was made by hand and the smell of leather enveloped you like a well-worn glove. The owner was a jovial and kind man named Leroy who was full of fun. I loved going in his shop where harness and tack lined the walls and shiny boots sat in neat rows. The belt I got was hand tooled light brown leather with a silver buckle. In the center was a tiny gold saddle. It was just what a little wanna-be cowgirl needed for the rodeo.
Beyond the usual entertainment of the rodeo was the side entertainment my mother provided. Every time someone got bucked off she would put her hand to her chest and gasp in dismay. By the time she made it through the bareback and saddle bronc events, I would begin to wonder if she would either hyperventilate and become dehydrated. But it got even more exciting when the bull riding started. While most of the crowd was cheering and going wild, my mother would have her hands over her eyes, unable to watch what might happen next. I think the fact that a couple of my cousins rode bulls didn’t help alleviate her concerns at all.
All in all, the 4th of July was a fabulous day – an encapsulated moment of time that reflects all the most fun, wonderful and beautiful memories of a childhood summer.
Wishing each one of you the magic, the lightness, the wonderful all-American goodness of a perfect summer day.
Happy 4th of July!