Monday, July 11, 2016

Independence Day in Small Town America

I grew up in a tiny town -- we're talking less than 3,000 people. To get an idea of just how small that is, here are a few fun tidbits:

+ There are no stoplights.
+ The city is about 6 square miles. 
+ As of 2013, the population had risen above 2,800 people. 
+ My high school graduating class had 65 kids in it. 
+ We have 3 gas stations. A few small restaurants, a salon, a motel, a few other local businesses and a small market where groceries are overpriced. 
+ To see a movie we had to drive 20 miles to the college town nearby. 

Wooden Mobile Hanging On Porch & Vintage Wall Mural // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

It is quiet, quaint, and everybody knows everybody. As a child, it was awesome to have so much freedom to roam safely. As a teen, being landlocked in such small surroundings made me antsy with wanderlust. As an adult, however, I love going back and celebrating holidays surrounded by family and the fun small town festivities. If you've never experienced small country towns during any holidays, I highly recommend you put it on your bucket list! Small towns have longstanding traditions and really make the most of the holidays that come up. You won't regret it.

Small Terrier // Independence Day in Small Town America // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET
Historic Home // Independence Day in Small Town America // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

This year for the Independence Day holiday, we had a big family reunion for my stepdad's side of the family to commemorate what would have been our grandpa's 100th birthday if he were still alive. This reunion was no small event, either. My stepdad has 5 siblings, each of them had at least 5-8 kids. Most of their children are now parents to several kids, and the little ones are now adults and starting to have babies, too! We're talking at least 100 people here. We all had matching tee shirts color-coordinated by family. We hung out, ate pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad, the kids all did crafts, and the adults all chatted away the afternoon in the summer heat of the Intermountain West. Every day of the long weekend was jam-packed with family members. This is just the way I like my holidays.

Yarrow // Independence Day in Small Town America // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

Earlier that day, everyone gathered on my parents' lawn for the annual Independence Day parade. With a tiny town, you can imagine it doesn't last super long, but you can bet that you'll always see a few tractors and horses making their debut. I don't love parades, and never go to them, unless I'm at home. I try not to miss our small town's parades. Any family members and friends that are in town, come over and watch from the shade of the big elm tree on the front lawn. We pull the bench off the porch of my parents' historic home and set out blankets on the curb strip.  In a way, it's a family reunion of its own. Perks to living right in the heart of town on the main road!

At some point during the weekend, I made a solo trek out to my mom's grave. I picked some flowers from her yard to leave by her headstone. Most of her garden has died because she hasn't been around to tend it since 2013, but her wildflower patch, and the perennials, live on. Her mark is left on this world by the garden she planted. I love the memories I have of growing up in this house, with this yard, and her garden. 

Peach tree & Wildflowers // Independence Day in Small Town America // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET
Peach tree // Independence Day in Small Town America // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET
Bug & Wildflowers // Independence Day in Small Town America // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

The yarrow stretches it's arms to the sky and some of it is as tall as I am.  Her wildflower patch continues to reseed itself and live on every year in her honor. Her peach tree is doing what it does best each summer and loading itself up with gigantic and juicy peaches. When ripe, they are the size of grapefruits, and the poor tree was never strong enough to hold them all. It's getting big enough to finally manage the task. Mom would be proud of her little tree for growing and getting stronger. She planted it herself when I was a kid. 

Moth & Pinecones // Independence Day in Small Town America // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

She would've loved the reunion this year. She always loved family get togethers. She wasn't forgotten, though. Several people brought her up in conversation, and several people told me that as I age I start to remind them more and more of her. 

I am definitely ok with that.  

Independence Day in Small Town America // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

++ How was your Independence Day? What did you do? Please, share with me in the comments!

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