Monday, July 07, 2008

Yankee Doodle Boy...

We had a wonderful 4th of July in my home town... Last year, we watched the fireworks from the Capitol Lawn in D.C., after picnicking at the Supreme Court. Last year's parade was down Constitution Ave... But honestly, I'm less impressed the D.C. fireworks and the D.C. parade than most people think I should be. I would've rather watched the hometown fireworks from our special spot behind the chiropractor's off of Cherry St. I would've rather waved at my third cousin riding on the Girl Scout's float. I know, they all think I'm crazy, but holidays for me aren't about who can put on the best show. They're about family and friends and traditions.

This 4th of July, I got to take my son to the parade in my hometown. We got to park at my great-uncle's and walk down to the route, just like we did every year growing up. We stood around with my relatives and chewed the fat while the locals rolled by. It was exactly as it should be. And my mom supplied the tiny flags, left over from parades of years gone by.

I don't know how many more years I'll get to watch the parade with my Great-Aunt Mary. Aunt Mary is a local institution. She was my preschool teacher when I was a tiny tot. When I got married, she gave me her recipes for chicken casserole, homemade playdough, and green eggs and ham. Every year, she dresses up in a dress and bonnet and tells stories to the children in the pumpkin patch. She plays the kazoo and the ukulele. Her smile can light up any room, and I think she's still the most beautiful woman in it, even at 83. You'd never know she was 83, since she still seems to have boundless energy.

When I was a little girl, my Aunt Mary thought that our town should have a parade for the littlest children to participate in. She didn't think it was fair that the tiniest tots should be left out. That led to "Miss Mary's Children's Parade". It occurs every year before the 4th of July over at the town hall. I remember how Miss Mary put her tape player with patriotic music on her wagon, held a flag high in her other hand, and started high stepping to the music. We all followed her... an uneven line of red, white, and blue, be-ribboned babies. Some of us rode in wagons pulled by parents, and some of us rode bikes with festooned training wheels. We went round and round in circles, and it was Aunt Mary who made it exciting. I couldn't have been any cooler on that day. I was "Miss Mary's" niece.

After Seth was born, I asked Aunt Mary if she would make him something, something that I could tell him that she made for him one day. I was thinking of something simple, like a sock monkey doll. She couldn't limit herself to that, oh no, sir. Aunt Mary sewed him a Raggedy Andy. She hand sewed his face and a little heart on his chest that said "I love Seth." I'm not going to let him play with it much. One day, when she's gone, I'm going to need to have it around to cuddle.

Aunt Mary is only one reason why I love my home town. They don't make 'em like her anymore. And her special type doesn't grow in big cities. D.C. may have marbled monuments, but I've got something just as precious... unforgettable small town people.


katie said...

wow! Beautiful sentiments.

Amy said...

Girl that's why we moved home! It's all about family! :) I know we were both sad when I left...but in this post you showed me you understand.