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If I close my eyes, I can picture everything. I can hear the classic patriotic tunes resonating from the family boombox. The smell of freshly cooked, perfectly buttered roasted corn on the cob steeps the air. Juicy slices of watermelon never tasted so good.

My little sister and I would be more decorated than our signature cream cheese cookie cake, covered head to toe in red, white, and blue.

Chances are we were off to Old World Wisconsin to participate in what may arguably be one of the most festive ways to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Old-time greased-pole climbs, re-enactors dressed in period garb parading through historic grounds and belting out patriotic classics like “God Bless America” at St. Peter’s Church (because everyone else was doing the same) – it doesn’t get any more festive than that.

Fourth of July with my family produced some of my most vivid childhood memories. The lover of tradition that I am looked forward to everything about that day every single year.

And while that had a lot to do with things like that yummy cookie cake and marching in a parade, most of it had to do with spending time together as a family.

Owner and operator of a small, family-owned architectural firm, my dad worked hard. Typical of most entrepreneurs, he worked tirelessly long hours to help provide for our little family of four.

All of that made family time that much more important. And today it’s even harder to “turn off” that racing entrepreneurial mind and step away from it all. Technology demands our attention constantly with its endless distractions. Emails and text messages and Twitter notifications and voicemail messages can consume us at a time when work-life balance has never been more important.

And it’s not just in our heads. Small business owners work hard. They are dedicated and often work more hours in their business than they imagined when it started.

That was true for my dad, who took that dedication to the grave. He passed away suddenly in 2009. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye, and suddenly and rather unexpectedly I was left with only my memories to draw from.

If I close my eyes, I can picture everything about independence days of my childhood.

And it kind of makes me want to cry.

Sure, I miss my father terribly and wish every single day he could have met my three- and two-year-old mischief makers.

But more than that, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the memories I have of the patriotic music and the drive to Old World Wisconsin. I’m thankful for the family time.

Here’s to family time this Fourth of July, from our Cloud Friday family to yours.