So today is Independence Day in these fine United States and there will be much celebrating. 236 years ago some very smart people made some pretty bold declarations. Look how far we’ve come.

Many will celebrate the day by shooting off fireworks and enjoying picnics with friends and family. Hopefully the weather will hold out so that we can do the same. I know I look forward to cooking on the grill. It seems to be my thing this summer.

When I was a kid there would be a big family reunion on Independence Day. All the cousins and aunts and uncles and other folks on Grandma Country’s side of the family would get together for a picnic at my dad’s aunt’s (Grandma Country’s sister-in-law’s) house. She had a big barn where there might be a magic show performed by one of the distant cousins. There were two ponds. One was designated for fishing or we’d take the row boats out on the other small pond on the property. One of the row boats had a leak so one of the passengers in that boat was responsible for bailing out water continuously. We didn’t care though. We took turns.

One year my cousin Becky shoved my cousin Missy out of the boat that didn’t have the leak. It was an awesome Laura Ingalls-Nellie Olsen-in-the-mud-like moment. Missy wasn’t really like Nellie Olsen but she was blond and that made the comparison more lively. Becky had always had spunk and didn’t put up with much from anyone. There was mayhem on the shore when Missy landed in the pond but that’s what family reunions are about. Mayhem.

Another year one of the distant cousins announced during the festivities that he was gay. This created a lot of turmoil since this proclamation was made in the mid 70s or so. I don’t know if his wife at the time was in attendance or not. I remember asking my mom what that meant. She told me without hysterics in her voice. Looking back she was usually level headed about that stuff.  She’d get much more hysterical if I did something like take the agitator out of the washing machine. I don’t know whatever happened to that cousin who came out in the mid 70s. 

One year I rode my bike to the family reunion and I felt a big sense of accomplishment. The ride was only three or four miles in each direction but I felt that riding a three speed bike that distance at an elementary school age was rather impressive. That year someone had the idea that we head into town for a little while to attend the circus that was going on at the firemen’s field. I was pissed. I wanted to ride the boats on the pond. It was that year that I decided that I don’t really like clowns. They’re creepy. The clown at that circus smoked while he talked to the crowd. Stupid clown. I don’t remember much else about the circus. The distant cousin who came up with the circus idea wasn’t the gay one. Everything got back to normal when we were brought back to the picnic.

We are having a picnic today to celebrate Independence Day. The family gathering will be smaller, we don’t have pond for zesty cousins to shove others into but it’ll be an enjoyable gathering. I’m looking forward to it.