Author: Campbell, Bruce

Party to Live

Every May, I get the question: “Hey! You goin’ the Strawberry?” Every May, my answer is “Nope – I got plans.” For 20+ years running, I DO have plans on the Memorial Day weekend. My dear old buddy Ken (he’s actually younger than me by 6 months) has a party at his house on a couple of acres up in Sutter Creek. As long as he has this party, I will be going – Strawberry will just have to wait.

My friends and I have changed a lot in the years since the party began, and the party has changed with us. In the earliest days, before there was even a house built on the land it was a primitive, wild bacchanal. There was screaming and yelling (the good kind), bonfires, gunfire (the good kind) and substances enthusiastically consumed. Truth be told, the Memorial Day weekend back then was like most of our weekends, only with more bonfires and guns.

But time marched on; many of us got married, had kids, built houses and homes, and the kids became part of the tradition. We became a little more responsible in our behavior because many little lives counted on us. But they did all get to know what a bonfire looks like and what a shotgun sounds like. And they grew to know the sound of music played live, up close and personal. First it was all acoustic because there simply wasn’t any electricity, but as the compound got built up a bit, an extended rock and blues jam became part of the fun, usually followed by acoustic instruments a few hours after dark.

The Memorial Day bash became a part of people’s lives. Indeed, I asked my sons (25 and 20 years old) if they could remember there ever NOT being a party on Memorial Day, and they couldn’t. At least one year, there was a wedding at the party. On several years, a picture was posted in a prominent place of a friend who had passed on since the previous party. There are many old friends who I only see once a year at this party, and so the event becomes a time marker. The past few years, several of the kids are active participants in the jams, and that’s a great thing.

In short, this event, for me, and my friends, has become a great deal more than just a party. There’s a fairly large circle of friends, with common histories stretching back 30 or more years who take comfort in the yearly face-check. And time is the great equalizer – what were differences between us become insignificant as we check off each year, and rejoice in each other’s company, for at least one more year.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could have an event like this in their lives? Guess what – you DO! If you’ve been coming to the Father’s Day festival for 20+ years, you’ve been nodding your head in agreement to this whole narrative (except maybe the gunfire part). You too know what it’s like to have a common event to share with friends over the years, and celebrate each summer of life. If you only been coming to the Father’s Day festival for a few years, or maybe contemplating coming to your first one, start building your history now – it makes each subsequent year that much richer. Yes, it’s ostensibly about the music, but it’s really the people, and the relationships that make each year’s experience resonate in your heart.

Posted:  6/2/2010

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