It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I realized that the Fourth of July was actually my favorite holiday. Christmas is a close second because I like presents (for myself, thank you very much), but the Fourth of July is when I’m actually at my happiest for the year. Maybe it’s all of the vitamin D, but I look forward to this holiday more than any other.
It’s not like we do anything extra special; I definitely don’t throw any kind fancy of party. Our family is pretty low key so we will likely watch the parade in Superior (who has the best Fourth of July parade ever, nothing else comes close), we will barbecue a lunch and maybe invite some family over. Then we head over to Bayfront Park after nap time and stay until after the fireworks. We lounge in the grass, listen to music, eat food truck food, and hang out as a family. We love interacting with other fireworks watchers and it reminds me of how nice this community is. The 4th may be the only day a year in which my family hangs out with the goal of relaxing; it’s the most fun we have in one day all year.
When I was a child growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida, we spent our holiday on the beach. We’d bring coolers full of food and my mom would let us swim and play in the sand all day. During the fireworks show we could turn our head and see displays from two, sometimes three different cities at the same time. People would light their own on the beach, boats would be in the water fully decked out in lights and patriotic décor. I remember being completely content.
Last summer, our family of six piled into our minivan and drove from Wisconsin to Florida. We did it in two and a half days (and we had no electronics at all!). My goal was to recreate for my kids the beach Fourth of July that I so fondly remember as a kid. Granted, I had also recently had an extremely traumatic birth with my youngest (I died and was revived by my doctors!) and was acutely aware that life is fleeting: even if you can’t afford it– just do it. I didn’t want to put the trip off any longer and I figured we would visit my family to show off the younger two children who they hadn’t met yet. It was a win-win.
The drive itself was long and tough, but when we pulled into the condo we rented, the kids were so excited. Their excitement gave me a burst of energy after the exhausting trip. Even my husband, whose general disposition is grumpy, was giddy enough that he almost smiled.
We spent some of our trip reconnecting with family, but the bulk of it was spent on the beach getting sunburned, eating local pizza, anxiously awaiting the sea turtles to hatch out of their eggs, trying to tell two toddlers they can’t eat sand, keeping an eagle eye out to sure nobody drowned on vacation, and having the best time. As we sat on the beach on the Fourth of July, I remember watching the fireworks from two cities while my kids happily played in the sand. Tears of happiness rolled down my face. It had been such a difficult year for all of us and even though I wasn’t the same mom I had been before my youngest child’s traumatic birth and my medical complications that followed, I felt like I was doing all right. That maybe they’d carry this happy family memory with them forever. And I am so grateful that even with my short term memory loss, the memories of that day on the beach is clear as day.