This past weekend was our little village's annual Homecoming, an event that was originally organized as an event for miners to return to the area to meet up with fellow co-workers and their families who had moved away after the mines closed. To us it's a reason to enjoy a carnival blocks away from our house and gather all our friends and family to watch the fireworks display from our driveway.
This year our crowd nearly doubled in size which was awesome and not just because that meant the dessert selection was even more outstanding than usual. In all we had ten households present for a total of 21 children ages 2 months to 16 years. Even though it seemed like there were kids everywhere you turned, for the first time since we started hosting this party I was laid back and relaxed. At one point I turned to my friends Jill and Steph who have been present for every party since its inception and said, "Man, can you believe how far we've come?".
We've lived through the years where socializing was minimal because we were too busy changing diapers, filling snack requests, and making sure our children didn't run out on the road or get burned by a wayward sparkler.
Then there were the years where we were able to relax for a few moments at a time until we were required to negotiate compromises in regards to sharing toys and playing fair.
And now, here we are. This year we basically set the children free and didn't think twice about what they were doing so long as there were no sounds of screaming. When it was time for sparklers, they assembled in a neat single file line while a solitary adult, The General, lit each stick for their amusement. If they were hungry they either got their own snacks or asked politely for assistance and then went on their way. They used the bathroom without getting permission or asking for assistance. They did not argue when the glow stick they desired was no longer available and graciously took the one that was offered to them. They sat during the entire fireworks display cheering happily while seated next to their friends.
I am not so far removed that I was not sympathetic to those still in the trenches. I watched as AL and Relish kept an eagle eye on a wandering 21 month old Star as the evening skies turned dark and BOTD snuggled a tired Super Trooper to sleep. I witnessed The Bride and her husband lug a diaper bag and pack and play into our house for VIP and later watched as they took turns with diaper changing duties and careful supervision while the older girls held their tiny baby. I saw Tru Stories compromise with an exhausted Coco, agreeing to take home cookies to avoid a complete emotional meltdown. It seems we were just there too, but as I soaked up the baby coos of VIP early in the evening I was reminded of how long ago those days actually were.
I also realized that I'm going to blink my eyes and the adults of the party will be sitting in our driveway along alone, ditched by our children who will be pulled toward the allure of the carnival over the simplicity of playing hide-and-go-seek in our backyard. Sunrise, sunset and all that jazz.
Thanks to everyone who attended this year. We'll see you again next year, and maybe the 1812 Overture be even better timed in 2013.