As the pandemic eases up and we return to some semblance of normalcy, people are heading back to restaurants, hosting family gatherings and attending sporting events.
All of these are important steps back into the routine of a more “normal” life for a number of folks, of course.
But for me, there’s something else I’m really looking forward to this summer in particular. This something is so “classic summer” it’s basically the smell of backyard barbecue, red and white gingham and ice cold watermelon slices all wrapped up with a bow.
The summer block party is back for 2021, baby, and it is everything.
Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. It always has been. Ever since I was a kid, I loved lighting off fireworks with my dad in the street by our house. Sometimes we’d drive to a hill in town where we could watch the high school stadium fireworks show for free. The crackle of fireworks. The smell of smoke. We’d “ooh” and “ahh” as the fireworks exploded overhead in a shower of colors. There was just nothing like it.
And as an adult, I still love the Fourth of July. I love summer in general.
A few years ago, my husband, kids and I moved to a quaint little old town neighborhood. We quickly realized, our new neighbors did not play when it came to block parties. Especially on Fourth of July. But for various holidays and sometimes just because.
I can’t get enough of cul-de-sac barbecues and bakes. Hot dogs, steak, chili, taco. All kinds of cheeses and crackers. Margaritas served on porches. All low maintenance. No Pinterest-inspired decor in site.
Dogs, running wild. But not scary ones. Friendly, slobbery ones.
Kids grab anything with wheels smaller than a car. Bikes, scooters and Power Wheels. And suddenly everyone is a parent of sorts as they help keep an eye on the kids.
The best part is that we spend time chatting with our neighbors during block parties. Usually, we only see our neighbors in passing and might exchange a wave as we rush into our cars on the way to school and work. But during summer block parties we linger. We eat. We drink. We laugh. We share what we have.
In 2020 during the height of the pandemic, the block parties took a hiatus. A few neighbors sat together on porches, and my family and me might swing by with masks on to say hi. But that was the extent of it.
Now in 2021 with my husband and I vaccinated, along with hopefully most of the adult and teenage neighbors, I’m looking forward to summer block parties back in full force.
Chit-chat over snow cones is a fantastic way to build community, and I am here for it. In a world that can be scary and uncertain, it’s reassuring to return to the simple childlike pleasures of roaming around on a warm summer day that turns into night.
I’m craving the sight of little hands waving sparklers until they fizzle out. The sound of tiny bare feet pattering around, and kids shrieking with glee until we’re begging them to keep it down.
All of us have been through so much, and we’re ready for some simple, throwback fun. Block parties have been around for centuries, and there’s a reason they’ve withstood the test of time. We need each other. Hell, we need a hot dog.
Summer block parties are community at its finest, and boy, have I missed that sense of community.
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- Sometimes Moms Feel Invisible