remember when…?

The 4th of July brings back so many memories…

I grew up in a small town in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula. The 4th of July was the one time each year are sleepy little town boomed with people. There was always a rush of visitors each weekend during the summer visiting their cabins and vacation homes, or hikers enjoying the Olympic National Forrest, or people out boating on the numerous lakes or even the beautiful Hood Canal.

But the 4th of July was different. I looked forward to each year. There was always a small parade, numerous street vendors, tons of things to do and yes, fireworks. I loved it. Each year the parade had a theme and you could enter the parade and dress up somehow, just hoping to earn a trophy. Smokey the Bear was always there and if all else failed, I could always walk the parade with a group from church or ride on top of the fire engine.

I kept every trophy I won.
I considered myself a local parade-winning legend too.

The street vendors were my favorite parts. Cotton Candy, Elephant Ears…the theme t-shirts for that years celebration…stuff animals and a variety of over-priced toys were all my disposal. And of coarse, I could walk it all, twice a day and still ask to go back one more time. My poor parents…

Every year in Hoodsport there was fireworks over Hood Canal and it was beautiful. Kids like me who had parents in the local fire department got to sit on the fire trucks each year to watch the show. It was pretty handy for our parents; it kept us safe, out of there way and well, we loved it. Sitting on fire hoses is never comfy, but we never cared. We’d wave at friends down below and sit up there like princes and princesses, thinking we owned the world.

And, every year we’d go to our friends house on the Canal, Vern & Sue (I grew up calling Vern “Turkey” because they owned a turkey ranch in Southern California). We’d shoot off little bottle rockets and those crazy little “fireless” fire works you can get. Of coarse my dad or Vern, or another adult would pull out some bigger fireworks they had bought on the Indian Reservation.

Each year this tradition was pretty much the same. The people changed and sometimes it actually rained, but the parade and vendors and fireworks always went on. Eventually I got too old for walking in the parade and I only wanted to go down to the street vendors with my buddies so we could check out girls, not the toys. There was a whole new generation of kids whose parents were in the fire department and they now sit on top of the fire trucks. In fact, the last couple years of high school I was in the fire deptarment and the 4th of July weekend kept us busy with helping people.

My first 4th of July away from home, away from Hoodsport, was when I was 19 in July 2001. I was actually in Greece with friends from high school enjoying a trip that was a grad gift from my parents. And by second year in college I never went back to Hoodsport for the summers and I started to find out really how hot the 4th of July got in Redding, CA.

Last year, on the 4th of July, along the bluffs of Santa Cruz close to the Boardwalk is where I asked Melanie to be my wife.

And this year, was my first 4th of July married. As great as some of those memories are of 4th’s past…making new memories now with Melanie is the best. And guess what, we started it with a parade, enjoyed a great lunch with family, saw a great movie and finished it up with some awesome fireworks.

Remember the past, the memories…good or bad. But stay there, in the midst of a memory. And, don’t try and to repeat that past experience. Look to make new ones…ones you can look back and say, “remember when…”