The Fourth of July almost felt like normal.
Despite the continuing Coronavirus pandemic, we decided to go to Alabama to celebrate Independence Day with my family. We actually did it a day early, on Friday, July 3.
It's the first time we'd made the trip since Christmas.
All the family had planned to be in Holly Springs in May for Erin's graduation from Marshall Academy. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, that couldn't happen.
This reunion last week was very much something we had looked forward to for awhile.
I loaded up the cornhole set in the back of the pickup truck, but as it turned out, we did not even have time to play. We just couldn't pack everything into a few hours.
We made our usual stop in Peppertown, at a location just off I-22, to buy fireworks for the big occasion. The assortment there is overwhelming, but we always get good advice there on the "best bang for our buck."
We did the best we could, upon arrival in Alabama, to abide by the social distancing guidelines. I did see a few hugs. It's extremely difficult to just give knuckles or elbows to family members when you have not seen them in six months.
The celebration always starts with food and ends with food. And this time around did not disappoint as we had chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixins, plus ice cream and cake.
The cake, since we weren't able to celebrate Erin's graduation together, was made in honor of Erin and her boyfriend, Tommy, who is a 2020 graduation of Millington Central in Millington, Tenn.
The Fourth also carried a graduation theme, with decorations everywhere at my sister's house, including an emotional string of photos from Erin's birth to the high school years. It started with the newspaper column I wrote after her birth on January 1, 2012, weighing just 2 pounds and 6 ounces.
Erin and Tommy also got to open graduation gifts. It was almost like Christmas in July.
The day included a lot of good fellowship and games for all, and for some, activities like fishing in the pond and shooting at the target range. Pam and I also made a trip to the cemetery, since we did not get to go on the first Sunday in May for the annual Decoration Day.
The Independence Day celebration concluded with the fireworks show, one of our best ever. The big finale was in doubt, however, as only one burst went skyward when several were expected.
Once the smoke cleared, a few of us approached, removed some of the wrapping and found the fuse. We managed to light it one more time, and the light show turned out to be fabulous ending to a fabulous family get-together.
Our celebrating continued on the official Fourth of July with a trip back east on I-22 by Pam, Emma and myself to Andy and Brooke's house in Tupelo. We enjoyed more food, watching a portion of one of our favorite movies, The Patriot, and then seeing the magnificent Fourth of July fireworks show put on by the City of Tupelo.
It was one of the best weekends in a long time for the Burleson crew. Then Sunday, we rested.