For a lot of kids, the Fourth of July is a stay-up-late, hot dogs and fireworks affair. It was for me too. But, it was also a cake and candles, wrappers and bows, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs event.

Why? Because in our house, the Fourth of July is a two pronged event. On the one hand, we get to hoot and holler about living in this amazing country. On the other hand, we get to celebrate that Kathleen Lonac, my mom, was born. The Fourth is her birthday as well. Pretty neat, huh?

My mom happens to think so too. In fact, she loves the Edmonds Fourth of July Parade. Without fail, it’s always on the birthday list.

Since it’s a regular tradition, I’m a bit of a parade guru. The best curbside seating goes quickly - especially the shady spots. (Little known fact – reserving seats with chairs is completely acceptable in Edmonds. We’ve seen locals begin staking their claims as early as four days prior.)

We discovered the hard way that it’s important to put a lid on your iced coffee. (Excited children can sometimes harmlessly bump into you.)

And like clockwork, the parade, never – ever – starts exactly on time. Best of all, seeing my mom smile and enjoy time with whole family is one of the highlights of the day.

There are a lot of reasons to feel blessed on the Fourth of July. Another good one is our country. Sure, it sometimes gets a bad wrap and our government doesn’t always function perfectly. But, it’s hands-down the best working government in the world.

Here, we have the freedom to be creative, push boundaries and challenge the status quo. There are so many places that do not foster or promote individuals pursuing their passions. Here in America, we do.

We’ll be at the parade this year with the entire Lonac clan. If you see us, my mom’s turning 32.