Yay! It’s almost Independence Day!
It’s one of my favorite holidays.
No, I take that back. It’s totally my favorite holiday.
Obviously, I’m a proud American and embrace the tradition of celebrating our history. But, it’s also about my own family traditions.
When I was in grade school and on into junior high, my cousins and my siblings would come in from all over the West to visit my grandmother. In my hometown, Buhl, Idaho, there’s a big Independence Day celebration, called Sagebrush Days.
There’s the parade, complete with lots of old tractors and plenty of horses. Buhl is the self-proclaimed “Trout Capital of the World.” (They didn’t make it up without reason. Eighty percent of the farm-raised trout in the world comes out of the fish farms on the Snake River here.)
There’s a giant fish feed at the senior center featuring fried fish and beans (another local crop) and a chance to see the people with whom you grew up.
There are sidewalk sales and a carnival at the park – it’s a rather idyllic American celebration. Combine that with blowing off firecrackers with your cousins and it’s heaven for an American kid.
After my grandmother passed away, though, my cousins stopped coming. By that time I had nieces and nephews who started to collect at my parents’ house, so that became our tradition for a decade or two.
Since my dad has passed, we’ve kind of been lost – not sure what to do. A few of my siblings still live in or around Buhl, so they still celebrate Sagebrush Days. I live about an hour away so don’t go every year, but try to at least hit part of the celebration.
We’ve started hosting our own Independence Day party – a hootenanny of sorts. My husband owns a small cannon that he blows off every so often to the thrill of most of the adult males. It’s a potluck, and my neighbors and relatives tend to be good cooks so the food is amazing. We laugh and eat and shoot off fireworks and enjoy each other’s company. I usually curl up on the porch swing and count my blessings as much as I count the sparks coming off the sparklers.
Of course, there’s my family and my close friends. On July 4, though, I’m always grateful for my neighborhood. I live in a place where the nearest neighbor is about a mile away, but despite the distance, most of us are friends.
One of my neighbors inspires me daily, and I’d love for you to meet her because I think she’ll bless your life as much as she blesses me.
I’d lived here several years before someone told me there was a hair salon on the next mile road east of my place. When I finally ventured over there I was pregnant with my first child, I believe. Maybe my second – but anyway, I met Salli there. She not only ran a hair salon but did manicures and pedicures too. She’d worked in a salon in town, but when that closed, her husband had found an old building once used for housing railroad workers and converted it into a salon on their farm.
It was cute and comfortable, and I always laughed when I was there. A few years later, Salli’s daughter got deployed. To keep her mind busy while her daughter was in harm’s way she went to massage school. Her husband added on not only a massage room, but an extra work room so Salli could do her sewing while she was between clients. It helped keep her mind off her daughter being in the middle of Bagdad.
We neighbor ladies started congregating out at Salli’s. We all had similar hobbies – lots of crafting and sewing. Our little group often lamented having to drive into the nearest retail center (30 miles) to buy notions and other incidental sewing supplies, so Salli volunteered to start carrying a few in the shop.
From there, “a few notions” turned into a full line of quilting materials and supplies.
On Wednesdays, there’s a potluck at Salli’s and the locals and quite a few ladies from town come out for food and conversation. Around delicate ears we refer to it as “Wednesdays at Salli’s,” but we all know its real name, “Stitch and B*tch.” There’s a bit more of the latter than the former.
The store has since expanded even more with two more rooms for supplies and fabric.
Salli’s truly a testament to that saying, “Following your heart and the rest will follow.” She found what she loves to do and then found a way to earn a living doing it. It hasn’t been easy, but she’s ridden through the storms with a smile and a willingness to serve not only her customers, but her community.
To me that’s what Independence Day is all about, really. Sure I enjoy the parades and celebrations, but when it comes right down to it, July 4 is about celebrating the fact that if you put your heart and mind to something in this country, you can make it happen. There are friends and neighbors there to support you.
Our country and its government are far from perfect, but I believe there is more good than bad in this world. People like Salli prove that to me every day. So for this Independence Day, you’ll find me eating ice cream and finding beauty in the community in which I live.
I hope you can too.