Some of my best memories are when I was surrounded by extended family.Each 4th of July, lawn-chairs were arranged on Aunt Mary K’s lawn in a giant oval. The oval tended to move with the shade.
The uncles fired up multiple charcoal grills for hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak. The aunts made every salad and side-dish imaginable, creating a feast. Aunt Mary K’s raspberry beds, in full production, presented an off-limit desert too irresistible for some of us.
We didn’t have mega-fire works. We didn’t need them. Random fire-crackers kept us amused, especially when thrown behind someone’s chair.Gary and Eddie, Deedee’s older brothers, erected a long rope swing in the back of their house. The backyard had a steep decline and was breath-taking to swing over. This was a magnet for most of us cousins. I liked to show off by flipping my legs up and swinging upside down. Much to my consternation, this only elicited comments the first time my trick was seen, so I kept on the look-out for new audience members. My aunts’ admonishments to stop before I broke my neck again satisfied my sense of danger.
Gary and Eddie created another thrill ride on a hilly wooded area behind the raspberry beds. They hooked two trees together with a rope, and attached a chair to the rope with a pulley. Earlier, they had made a carnival for the younger neighbors and gave away their outgrown toys as prizes.
During our party, they told us never ever to use the ride when they weren’t there to supervise, because it was dangerous and we could get killed. Well, that certainly sounded like a lot fun. So we made sure they couldn’t see us while we used it.
We pulled the chair up to the tree at the top of the hill. We took turns climbing on board while the others held our chair of death in place. Upon release, the rider was pushed and gravity took over. The trick was to have your feet outstretched, softening your crash into the tree waiting at the bottom of the hill.
David and I made a similar ride at home, but the hill wasn’t as steep, the ride wasn’t as dangerous, and therefore not as much fun.
Lesson Learned: A house doesn’t become a home unless you fill it with family, friends, lots of laughter, and good memories.
Now it’s your turn: Tell me about one of your family gatherings.
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