posts tagged with 'holiday'

this Fourth of July

This past week we spent some time practicing music for a patriotic singalong that they recorded Thursday with Grandpa. He wrote an arrangement and sent us the accompaniment track, and the boys worked hard fitting the songs they knew into the medley and learning some new ones. It was fun, but it also felt a little strange—inappropriate, even—to be belting out "Colombia the Gem of the Ocean" just a week after celebrating the fall of the Colombus statue in Boston. Overall Independence Day has a strange feel this year: the red, white, and blue has maybe a little bit of a different meaning.

To be honest, I'd be happier to fly a black flag, or a red one, or rainbow. Right now at least when I someone displays an American flag I can't help but see it as possibly a statement against Black lives or LGBT rights. Those "thin blue line" flags that are all over sure don't help. Which is too bad! Because while I'm not really into the idea of the United States as a national identity, I do happen to have a lot of neighbors who live in the US... and theoretically it's nice to signal that we've all got something in common and can care about each other. As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year—socially distanced, of course—that's what I'll be thinking about as I sing about the red, white and blue.

May Day without fire

This morning we were talking about May Day traditions, which, besides the maypole dance also include the practice of jumping over a fire. "Why would anyone do that?!" Harvey wanted to know. But looking around he could see that me and Zion both had more nuanced views. When I said some people might think it was fun and exciting, Zion agreed heartily. I totally think he'd go for it. My thinking is that it's not actually that dangerous, assuming you're wearing shoes and good long pants—and who wouldn't be this time of year? If you do land a little short you'll hardly catch on fire at all, and as you roll around there'll be plenty of people around to help you beat out the flames. As for jumping to low and passing through the fire on your way over, that's so quick it seems like no danger at all. Luckily, this morning was very wet and rainy, so Zion and I were spared the temptation of actually trying it out.

Despite our lack of proper observance—we had neither fire nor ribbons and flowers—real May weather, sunny and warm, put in an appearance by mid afternoon. It was kind of magical. Happy May Day everyone!

Patriots Day in quarantine

We've had some improvisational stay-at-home Patriots Days before, but nothing like yesterday! To be honest, it was hard to even remember that it was Patriots Day, what with the snow yesterday and the general lack of public signs of the festivities. Luckily, I happened to see somewhere that Lexington Public Television was broadcasting a replay of last year's early-morning reenactment, the one that starts at 5:30, plus lots of other content from Patriots Days past. We've actually never seen that particular reenactment, so we made plans to get up early to check it out. Many of us managed it.

Lijah watching the minuteman on a screen in a dark room

it's just like we were there!

Of course, there was some grumbling and some drama—just as if we were really there! Zion didn't wake up in time and was unhappy about that. He blamed me—fairly, I suppose, since when he told me that no, he didn't want to get out of his bed he actually wasn't really awake and I should have kept shaking him. And just like in real life it was very hard to make out what the announcer in the recording was saying, so even though we were in our (relatively) warm house, watching minutemen standing around for a quarter of an hour got a little old for the boys. They did enjoy it when things finally happened. Then immediately following we read Sam the Minuteman so Zion could hear a textual version of what he missed, and we could talk some about the context of the battle. Then the boys played minutemen and redcoats while I prepared our very own home-grown pancake breakfast. The complete Patriots Day experience!

Well, not entirely complete. Lexington TV had a full schedule of events that included a parade and a fife and drum muster, but by mid morning the stream was having all sorts of problems—we were getting just a couple frames per minute, which is not really enough to make out what's happening. But that was fine, because while it was lovely to have a little taste of the holiday, it's not really Patriots Day when you're stuck at home. And we did have some other things to do. Here's to better luck next year!

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the nuances of MLK Day

Martin Luther King day is immensely important, but there are challenges around observing it with kids. With my own white boys, I want to help them understand the systematic racism that's been part of the history of our country, and how it continues to affect people now, without reducing the Black experience entirely to one of persecution. In the other direction, no more do I want to make Dr. King's legacy into a feel-good story about the power of love and positive thinking—the kind of message that lets spokespeople for the current president claim King would have opposed the impeachment effort as dangerous and divisive. Even avoiding those two extremes, any talk about non-violent resistance has to be balanced with the reality that non-violence is really hard, and that sometimes it feels like, to oppose oppression, violence should be the answer. Those are the things I'm talking about with my 10-, 8-, and 5-year-old.

I also read Martin's Big Words to my Kids Church class yesterday, and got a few different reactions. One boy, who's black, told me he didn't like the story because it's scary. Another, biracial, said it was boring because he's heard it a million times—"but there's a cool part when his house gets bombed!" About half of the kids had already heard the book in school, which seems good. But how many third-grade classrooms are equipped to handle the nuances the discussion requires?!

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dinner days

Not counting leftovers, we had two solid Thanksgiving dinners this year. And best of all they were on different days! On Thanksgiving proper we went to my parents' house; they won the honor because my brother and his family were there too. They live far away, so we tend to see them just once a year at most. They're planning to come up at Christmas time too this year, so Thanksgiving was an exciting bonus! Since the Archibalds are old-fashioned folks we ate our dinner at 1:00. There was all the food you'd expect, and each of us boys had a different thing we liked the best. The early dinner time was great because it let us digest for a little bit and then head out for a walk while there was still plenty of light. A short walk—we weren't really up for much exertion. And there was dessert waiting at home. I made an apple pie.

cousins mid-walk

On Friday we reprised the holiday with Leah's parents and brother. I was meant to bring corn bread, which was unfortunate because I'm not good at making corn bread and also because our oven stopped working briefly in the middle of the cooking. The delay meant I missed some playing and socializing time, but at least I wasn't late for dinner! I even got there in time to watch Leah's brother carve the turkey in the optimal scientific way, which was amazing. I should take lessons: I've never actually carved a turkey, but every time I try to cut up a chicken it's a disaster. This turkey, barbecued, was as tasty as it was well-carved. We got some of the leftovers too, and they were wonderful in sandwiches Saturday. I call this Thanksgiving a success.

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a day in our town

An article in the Bedford Citizen asks if this past Saturday was the best Bedford Day ever. I don't know about that. The St. Paul's Church booth didn't have nearly the bake sale spread we're accustomed to, and the candy throwing at the parade caused just as much chaos as it always does. On the other hand, the weather was beautiful. And there was free cotton candy.

Zion eating blue cotton candy

Bedford day blue

We started the day off with the parade, and we had a big gang together at our traditional viewing spot: four families that planned to be there, and one more who we just happened to meet there. New this year, the town set up some barricades along the street to, I assume, keep the kids from crowding the parade off the road in their desperate scramble for candy. We were happy to see them.

the boys watching the parade from behind a metal barricade

behind the barricades

Not that they totally worked... besides the gaps in between them that let anybody with a lack of self-restraint come around in front, most of the people throwing candy from trucks didn't manage to get any of it actually over the barriers. Which felt kind of even more dangerous than not having them there at all? No worries for us, though; we stayed safely behind.

Then it was on to the fair. There was plenty more candy available at various booths, plus fruit at one and toothbrushes at a couple others to balance out the sweets. But we didn't last long; with the summery weather everybody was out there and it was a little overwhelming. Most of us quickly escaped to a shady spot for lunch. And from our shady spot we could watch the karate demos and dance performances—plus keep an eye on kids on the playground—so there didn't seem much reason to move for quite a while.

Eventually we decamped to the library for the book sale, and also because we just like being in the library. Several of our friends had by then left to watch the high school football game—rescheduled from Friday night due to EEE mosquito fears—so when they let me know that the second half was starting and admission was now free I forced the boys away from their bookish reverie for some real American sporting. I don't know how much of the game we actually absorbed over the 20 minutes we managed to stay in the stadium, but we certainly felt like we taking part in some real Bedford life.

the boys and friends sitting in the Sabourin Field stands

ready for some football

Then leaving the stadium we watched some middle school boys rolling down a steep hill in truck tires: at least as thrilling as the football!

It was a fine day. Bedford Day continues to be one of my favorite days.

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this fourth day of July

Yesterday we went to the Picnic in the Park to celebrate Independence Day in style. It was maybe our tenth straight year going or something; maybe more. Once we find something good, we stick with it! Most of us, anyway: Leah was even more wiped out than the rest of us by our adventures on Cape Cod the first half of the week and our late-night return on Wednesday, so she stayed home. Plus, cotton candy doesn't have the same appeal for her as for some others of us.

Lijah eating cotton candy

holiday sugar

And not only cotton candy: pie and ice cream too!

Zion with a bowl of pie and ice cream at the fair

he won't be able to eat all that

Also popcorn and candy, plus all the food we brought from home for our lunch picnic. So it was a good thing that we had some active pursuits in the bounce house and the field games. Here's Zion taking a fall trying to catch up with the bigger kids in his second sack race heat (he still finished first among the smaller ones).

kids competing in a sack race

thrills and spills!

There was music too, which I enjoyed more than the boys. They're big now, and I appreciated that when they wanted to play on the playground during the Concord Band set they could do it without me there! Lijah is especially impressive. When he wanted a balloon animal, he was able to wait in line by himself for like half and hour, which I never would have been able to stand.

Lijah watching a clown make him a balloon animal

his patience is rewarded!

The only downside of the day was that water to play in was in short supply. The fountain was turned off, and the fire department with their hose—usually a highlight—packed up early for some reason. But there was plenty of drinking water for us to quench our thirst after our bike ride to the fair, and refill once again for the trip home.

Harvey's friend Jack came with us, which was super fun, and we met up with a whole bunch of other friends there. It all contributed to a great celebratory day: even without fireworks, it was just what Fourth of July should be.

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Easter report

dyed Easter eggs in an egg carton

remember Easter?

A month ago today the boys were very excited about Easter, mostly because they were looking forward to wearing new suits, and Leah was quite stressed for the same reason. Needless to say, she made it happen, and everyone was thrilled with the results!

the boys posing on the porch in their Easter suits

finery

Besides the outfits, Leah also saw to the Easter baskets, which were low-key but still delightful.

Zion and Lijah on the couch with Easter baskets

cozy and happy

I don't have any good pictures from church because, for the first time, we ran kids programming on Easter. That's what I saw to. It went well and felt properly celebratory, but it was also a lot of work. After the service there was an egg hunt. Being small Lijah got to go in with one of the earlier groups, so he got his ten eggs without any trouble. The bigger boys had a tougher time with more competition!

Zion with a crowd of kids waiting for the church egg hunt to start

ready to rush

Never mind, we had another hunt at our house with plenty of eggs for everyone—filled not just with candy but with little plastic Pokemon too.
Many of the eggs were easy to find, but a few were very hard, so there was some hard searching time for the older kids. Some children, traumatized by hunts in years past, didn't want to try; but anyone who did try got all they wanted.

Lijah opening plastic eggs at the picnic table, surrounded by hundreds of empties

they found some

There was plenty of food too—pot-luck style so we didn't have to work to hard—so even though they didn't get 25 eggs filled with candy the adults didn't go hungry either.

Looking back, I feel lucky we got to experience such a lovely Easter: wonderful friends willing to hang out with us and a fun, laid-back church even with 80 kids to look after. Good times. I'm glad I could finally write about it.

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Patriots days

In the first half of April we celebrated nine days of Patriots Day festivities in Bedford and Lexington. Things kicked off here in Bedford with the pole capping parade; I've written before how cool it is that we get all the minute companies to start the season, and this year was no exception.

minuteman firing a volley in the Pole Capping parade

Patriots Day starts with a bang!

It wasn't all guns and aggression; there was lots of lovely fife and drum music too, and a handful of colonial women and children.

colonial women and girls walking in the parade

rounding out the picture of Colonial life

The weather was beautiful—clear and mild—so for the first time ever we actually stayed for the pole capping itself. We were there with friends, and all the kids endured the politicians' speeches without complaint (it helped that we gave them snacks). Our friend Andrew, who moved to town a couple years ago, said it was the most Bedford thing he'd ever experienced. It was especially fun cheering for our neighbor Samantha, who won an award as the most notable high school senior and had to sit up front looking respectable through all the speechifying. Then they put the hat on the pole.

the lucky minuteman atop the pole waving his liberty cap

made it!

The following Saturday was again warm and beautiful, perfect weather for cycling to Lexington to watch the big reenactment at Tower Park. I take pictures of it every year and they're all about the same, but it's such an experience I couldn't resist yet another round.

redcoats forming up in a haze of gun smoke

the fog of war

One difference this year is that, having biked, we were in position to watch the proceedings from the back side. That was great for the first part of the battle, but less optimal as the fighting moved east with a swamp between us and the action. I followed some other people into the woods to see what we could see, but the minutemen yelled at us so we had to go back. Unlike the more famous reenactment in Lexington Center, though, this one is big enough that there's always something to see.

minutemen in the woods

like watching from backstage

The weather was looking iffy for Monday's parade, the highlight of the week's festivities. It was cancelled last year due to rain, so we were really hoping not to miss it again. Morning rain led us to cancel our own plans for a pre-parade picnic in Lexington, but things looked fine for the parade itself at 2:00 so at quarter to one we gathered up our three-family group of cyclists and headed out. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves until my mom called me ten minutes into the ride to let us know that, due to more rain in the forecast, the parade start had been moved up to 1:15. Yikes!

So we hurried. Zion was feeling week (he had skipped Saturday's ride because of sickness) so I carried him and his bike, but all the other kids (and adults) did great, and we made it the five miles up the hill in just 28 minutes—in plenty of time to find a good spot along the strangely empty parade route, and fortify ourselves after all our hard work with fried dough and Italian ice. We're always glad to be out for a parade.

Lijah smiling waiting for the parade

happy to be there!

Besides the reenactors and bands—and there were some fine bands this year—the parade highlights Lexington's increasingly diverse cultural makeup. We all liked getting up close and personal with this dragon.

a chinese dragon surprising the boys at the parade

roar

We were talking smack about the Shriners as their first units rolled by, but then we had to take it all back when the mini-big rigs—pretty great themselves—were followed up by a trio of motorized tricycles—basically powered big wheels. Two of them could drift and the third could turn on two wheels. Very exciting.

After the parade was exciting too. The decision to start the parade early was an inspired one, because just as the last unit went by our spot the sky turned dark, and within five minutes the first drops were falling (the parade still had close to a mile to go past us, so sorry to those folks!). We were prepared, and got everything packed up and everyone into raincoats in record time.

Lijah bundeled up in the cargo bike, Harvey on his bike in a raincoat

good thing we're tough!

Then the ride home featured weather that ranged from drizzle to torrential downpour. It was actually pretty great. I consider Patriots Day to have been celebrated.

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springingly

We celebrated the equinox in the best of all possible ways today, by getting out into the newly springlike world on bicycles. The plan was to picnic by Fawn Lake, but the clayey mud on the path and Zion's flu-related shortness of breath stopped us before we made it that far. Never mind, we found a nice soccer field for our lunch, and running around (for short periods of time, interspersed with rests) suited our energy level better than hiking would have anyways. It was lovely to be outside.

Harvey and Zion picnicing by a small boulder in a mown field

first picnic of the spring

Besides the outing, we also observed the day by taking down the paper snowflakes and baking equinox cookies, activities which are now traditional. We didn't make flowers to replace the snowflakes, though, unlike last year; instead our art time was taken up with illustrating adjectives. Not seasonal, but just as fun. Since friends came over in the afternoon and stayed for dinner we also didn't manage to follow through on my plan of building a bonfire and burning the snowflakes... maybe we can do that tomorrow.

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