Times Change — Embracing New Traditions

fourth of july

Backyard Fireworks

We celebrated Independence Day this past week. In addition to the swimming and the picnic food, we set off fireworks. That’s one of my son’s favorite things to do. I think it has something to do with the power of the explosives and the exhilaration the display causes everyone who’s watching. The ones we set off this year were pretty good, for backyard fireworks.


Excited Casey and
Scared Max

My family enjoyed them. One of my dogs did. The other was frightened, to the point he made himself sick. Maybe next year he’ll adapt better and enjoy the show like his brother does.

My nephew, when he was young, called it a “spectacular extravaganza in the sky.” It’s cuter if you hear it coming from the lispy voice of a two year old. He’s twenty-five now, but I’m pretty sure he still likes fireworks. I don’t know anyone (my youngest dog excluded) who doesn’t like them.

Festa di Italia

Vandergrift Festival

Growing up, Independence Day was spent at the local festival in my hometown. There were food stands, game booths, and live bands for days. Fireworks started around 9:00 on the fourth and lasted for about an hour, culminating in a grand finale that left us all breathless. Most people stayed at the festival to watch the show, but my family always went to my grandparents’ house. Their backyard faced the field where the fireworks were set off.

Those are some of my fondest memories of childhood.

There were the years when I was very young and quite frightened that the embers would land on me. I stood on the porch under the roof and peaked out at the ones that were above my head. There were the years when I was older and stood as close to the field I could, eagerly anticipating the next explosion, and the next, and the next.

We stopped going when my grandfather passed away. My grandmother’s heart wasn’t in it anymore, and if she wasn’t celebrating, it seemed wrong to enjoy the show without her.

As the years went on, I started dating the boy who became my husband. We’d watch the fireworks from his parents’ backyard. It always left me nostalgic for my younger years, but it was nice being with the boy I loved.

Samantha/Seth toddlers

My Kids as Toddlers Ready for Summer Fun with Family

When we were married and had kids, we’d bring them to the festival and then to my in-laws’ house. They had a blast, and so did we. But time marches on, and things change. We moved away, and getting back for the festival became harder and harder. Finally we stopped going home for the festival, and now we live so far away and our kids’ schedules are so full, we couldn’t go home if we wanted to.

Not that it matters.

My town stopped having the Fourth of July Festival years ago, choosing instead to have only the church festival in August.

What’s the point of this story, you ask?

It’s so you understand that time marches on. Things change, people change, and you should embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Before long, loved ones will be gone, events will have changed or ceased to exist, and you might have to start your own traditions just to have any connection with your past. And connections with your past forge the person you are today.

backyard fireworks tradition

My grown son preparing our fireworks display.
Traditions change, but the emotions behind them remain.

My husband and I do what we can to keep family traditions alive for our kids—even when we have to change things to keep the traditions alive. Do you still keep old traditions alive for your family? Why don’t you share some traditions in the comments section below?

And writers, in addition to the family matters discussed above, consider how to apply these principles to your WIPs. Do you have family traditions that you can work into your characters’ lives? Have those traditions changed over the years? If so, for the better or worse? How do these traditions impact your characters? Don’t forget to include setting, senses, and character reactions. Maybe you could discuss a tradition you’re incorporating into your WIP in the comments section.

6 thoughts on “Times Change — Embracing New Traditions

  1. Staci, we always were able to have fireworks except for the 9 years we lived in NY. We would attend the fireworks display on Long Island. Nothing is more beautiful than the reflection of the great display in the water below.
    When our grandson was old enough for he to be safe, he took over the annual family fireworks, and later he took training so he could safely shoot of the huge ones and he would work sometimes days rigging everything. Now that he is living in another state, we sure miss that annual get together. This year we celebrated by grilling steaks on the front porch, while our daughter took the youngsters to a display at one of the other family members. I sure miss those days, but like you say, things have changed for all of us, and we either adapt or are very unhappy. I chose adapt. Thanks for a great post. I really enjoyed it.


    • Thanks, Velda.

      What your grandson did is something we don’t often talk about–taking training to learn the proper safety required with these displays. That’s wonderful that he did that.

      And while adapting is bittersweet, it beats the alternative! Thanks for your comments.


  2. Staci, my immediate family has kept as many traditions as possible; however, it seems to be more difficult as the years pass. My daughter is in the Navy stationed more than 10 hours away and cannot make it home to celebrate with us as often as we like. My son just started a new job that has weekend and holiday hours and is also not available to celebrate with us as he did when he was younger. I have re-arranged our holiday get togethers around family schedules and still find that not everyone can attend. My brother is not as devoted to keeping tradition alive and with aging parents and a 95 year old grandmother, traditions seem to be a memory of the past. I still do most of the traditional holiday meals (I don’t do Christmas Eve’s seven fishes). I wish for the days when life was more simple, family got together more often and traditions were not just a memory, but an actual event. I still bake at least 10-12 different cookies for Christmas but no one visits anymore except for a few family that come to my house on Christmas day. I take cookies to work and send some with my husband and son. I usually have cookies to eat myself until the middle of March (Good thing they freeze well). One of my most favorite traditions is to make what my family calls Easter Pizza (I remember you had this in an earlier post). My family has become an integral part of this tradition. I hope that more families will make the effort to carry on family traditions or to start new traditions of their own. Thank you for taking me on a trip down memory lane.


    • You don’t do the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve dinner? That’s the best one!

      In all seriousness, I agree that when times change and people drift away, it’s hard, especially on those of us who cling to the importance of family. All you can do is what you’re doing, and I commend that.


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