Mantoan Family Traditions – July

Most of our family’s July traditions can be summed up in one word: beach. Though it’s much less a tradition now than it used to be. Since our move to our new house, we’ve created some new traditions, but otherwise, July is quiet; no birthdays, anniversaries, or school events. At the old house, it should’ve been when homesteading was in full swing, but as I wrote about awhile ago, Tony and I both realized early on neither of us enjoyed gardening, canning, cleaning out the chicken coop, or whatever. Outside of fencing for the girls (not a summer sport) and Byron’s one year of football, we’ve never had sports practices either. When the older kids were in our parish’s Catholic scouting program, we sometimes had camps and events. So in the past, I think we’ve had busy July’s, but we also can have a very lazy, leisurely July some years. When this happens, I tend to think I can get a lot done, but ultimately I realize I will be spending all my time with Fulton and Teddy.

July 4th

If we didn’t travel out to the midwest over Easter, this used to be the time we’d drive out, especially once our nieces and nephew were in school. It usually worked for us to visit with lots of Tony’s family during this time (most of whom are spread out between Illinois and Wisconsin). If we didn’t travel out of state, we’d also sometimes visit with my extended family in Ocean City since my cousin’s kids and my kids are close in age. I do like using the July 4th holiday to visit with family, but if it doesn’t suit to travel, at least we have local fireworks to enjoy.

July 4th beach trip to visit with family, 2016

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Festival, Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16

Since moving, this has become a summer tradition. We missed one year due to COVID (even though it was held, we just felt it wasn’t safe for us to attend), and one year we missed most of it due to summer camp in Florida, so even though we’ve lived here five years, this will only be our fourth year enjoying all the events. We have invited people to visit this year, and some of Tony’s family will be coming in town and Addie will be home. The highlight of the festival is the parade on the feast day of OLMC in which all the statues are removed from the local church and walked down main street. People along the route give money to be pinned on the statues in exchange for holy cards. The parade concludes with Mass. There’s carnival rides, live music on several stages, tons of Italian food, shops, and beer gardens: and we can walk to it all.

Attending the parade, July 16, 2019

Ocean City, NJ

My grandmother has had a condo in Ocean City since the mid-eighties. Everyone in the family gets a week, and growing up, my parents always took one of the last weeks in July. My mom still goes down every July and so my family goes and visits with her for several days. When the kids were little, we would all go and stay for awhile, but for the last few years, the older three will sometimes go down for a couple days, while Tony and I and the younger boys will go down for an evening a few times during the week. My sister also used to visit during this time, but now that she’s in LA, it’s harder for her to get away.

Family beach trip, July 2014

This family condo is one reason why it’s a long term goal for Tony and I to buy a beach house. Having a place where everyone could go and stay (even when it was crowded) was a favorite childhood memory of mine, and as rental prices skyrocketed in Ocean City, it was nice to have a place where our family could still enjoy a vacation, even when money was tight. Tony and I always knew, even if we couldn’t afford any other trips, we could still take everyone to the condo and enjoy a nice week or weekend and still keep costs low by cooking all our own food, and sticking to free or cheap activities. I want to be able to offer the same experience to my own kids; so that if they also start families young, there will still be a way for them to take their kids on a family vacation. And if everyone winds up far away, there will still be a special place we can all meet to vacation together. The dream is still far from being realized, but hopefully some day.

Kids Bowl Free

If July is on the slow side, and I’m trying to find ways to entertain the boys, we’ve taken advantage of the Kids Bowl Free program for many years now. Even now with older kids who don’t qualify for free bowling, I usually purchase a family pass and if a bunch of us go even twice, it usually covers the cost. Since moving, there’s a bowling alley even closer to our house so we tend to go more. I highly recommend signing up as the program runs into September which is perfect for homeschoolers who want to go bowling once most other kids are back in school.

From one of our bowling trips this year.

So that’s my super short July traditions post! If I forgot something, I’ll have to come back and drop it in. What are your family’s July traditions?

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