Each year on July 4th we celebrate with my family at my parent’s house in Hanford, California. It is the closest thing to summer and holidays that I remember from my childhood. Lots of relatives, lots of food, lots of people talking all at once. Add a pool to jump into, fresh apricots, peaches and plums ripe to perfection and, really, I think it is as good as it gets.
Sitting in a folding chair on the sidewalk while the kids lined up the fireworks for the show and my husband acted as master of ceremonies, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the simple pleasures of my childhood. Fireworks are still one of my favorite things. Not only do I love the colors and the oohs and aahs, but I also associate them block parties, family, and with my dad – he and I used to light a few ahead of time in our backyard on the evenings leading up to the big day.
Now I am thankful that my niece and nephew can enjoy the same simple pleasure. A tradition that takes place away from the televisions and computers that dominate so much of their interests. For a few hours they get to enjoy the same bonding with their family that we had. Even in their much more experienced eyes, fireworks are magic and worth moving away from the screen.
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of those beautiful sparks erupting in a spray through the darkness. Or of the joy I hear in everyone’s exclamations. And I hope that these kids will make the effort to create this experience when they have families of their own.
We can’t do fireworks in San Jose any more. We have to drive three hours to enjoy this simple pleasure from our childhood. I wonder, will it be this way with books? Almost daily I read this debate on the newsgroups I belong to. Artists, bookbinders, librarians – we all wonder, is the paper book going to be replaced by the iPad, Kindle and smart phone?
Will we have to drive three hours to find a library that still has paper books? Will this generation of kids be reading bedtime stories to their children from an electronic screen? Or, worse, will the screens be reading the bedtime stories so the parents don’t have to? Usually when I think about the future of books I am considering the classics, artists’ books, or books of historical significance. But this weekend, when my focus was on the memories we help create for children, I began to wonder about the future of books in those memories.