Perhaps the best parts of holidays are the memories they create—and which can linger through time, year after year, summer after summer. Memories become traditions and tie us to our friends, family, heritage.
Here, director Amy Redford, a mom of three, wife of one, and true exemplar of Fortytude recalls the Fourth of July parades of her youth, and how the memories of them have carried over through time (and still even remain within her).
I miss my Grandparents’ porch. Actually the best part about it was the (totally-treacherous-and-inappropriate-for-anyone-let-alone-young-children) overhang above the porch that we would climb onto through the second-story window while holding neon popsicles. This was how we watched the legendary Fourth of July parade that ran right in front of my grandparents’ house and through Provo, Utah.
You could not have had better real estate for such an occasion. And my grandmother took this privilege very seriously. Only the blessed few would gain access to the front lawn that was literally roped off. It was much like a red, white and blue jubilee, and items of clothing became fodder for the American flag.
One year, in an attempt to get people to come visit the Sundance Resort, my father rode in the parade. This was alternately horrifying and exciting. He then repeated it for a few years—on motorcycle, horseback—even once in a cart pulled by our terribly confused Bernese mountain dogs.
People would come give their respects to my grandparents in the house that my great grandfather built when he was the mayor of Provo. And this parade made me think of all those who forged the way: My great grandmother VanWagenen was the first woman to get her driver’s license in Provo. My grandmother Phyllis got her first hole-in-one at age 70… And three more holes-in-one after that. My mother went back to school at age 40 to complete an unrequited undergraduate degree and ended up with a Ph.D.
To me, this occasion was also a rare opportunity to see almost every one of my mother’s 50-something first cousins. It was popcorn and soda and hot dogs and float after float. Miss Utah, Central Bank and Trust, all the local schools and firefighters. It was spectacular and sweaty and full of unabashed enthusiasm for the American Way.
I miss those moments—for me, and for our three girls with totally disparate sensibilities. For my husband, who grew up primarily in the outskirts of Philly where this would seem like Mars run by terminally friendly people.
It makes me wonder how I would—or should—celebrate this year. I celebrate the photo my friend sent me of our president fist-bumping a janitor at the White House. I celebrate the freedoms afforded people who want to practice unconventional marriage much like my ancestors. I celebrate the vast and diverse landscape that we are trying to preserve…
This Fourth of July, I want to share with my kids all the things I love. We will be on a lake in Pennsylvania with my loving and thoughtful in-laws. Just to show the Provo girl who lurks within me, I might even dig up my red, white and blue hoop earrings.