Happy Independence Day

I echo Matthew’s first words uttered today, “Happy Independence Day!”

This ranks in the top 5 holidays for me. I love Christmas because of the significance of the event and because I’m a gift’s person. I love to wrap up and plan special gifts for those I love.  The tree and decorating are always magical along with hot cocoa by the fire.

Of course we love Thanksgiving with all the amazing food and having family and friends fill the house is always good. But with both holidays the planning is somewhat exhausting and the prep, execution and clean-up afterwards is not so fun.

That’s probably why I love Independence Day. Besides the fact that we are celebrating our free country protected and preserved by those who defend us. This holiday is free from gift buying or major preparations. Instead it’s paper plates and solo cups.  It’s throw on the grill food and basking in the sunshine.  It’s relaxation at it’s best.

I was reminded last night of another reason why I love this holiday.

People… neighbors and strangers made friends!

Here in our hometown, firework displays are not on the day itself. Instead we shoot off fireworks every night for three to four days in advance. Traveling from spot to spot around the lake with different townships pulling off a show each night.  We enjoy them all and no one really works on the Fourth itself.  I kind of like it that way.

So last night, we made our way down to another local fireworks show. We could see from the top of the hill cars lined up all along the road. The park was filled and local authorities monitored the entrances, directing people from place to place.

Dave decided to bypass all that crazy and choose another route instead.  It turned out to be the best choice of the night.

We found a small road tucked behind the crowd where a few other adventurers had found their way as well.  We skipped the masses and parked in the grass along the road.

It brought me back to the days of childhood.  Finding a spot, parking the car and sitting on the hood, waiting for the sky to light up.

Another car filed in next to ours.  Their blanket came out and they popped up on their hood to await the show in the sky.

It’s those times of simple American tradition that brings a smile to my face.

There’s no stranger to Matt and soon we were chit-chatting away with our new car neighbors made friends. Strollers with toddlers walked by waving their American flags. Men tossed footballs across the lawn and kids with glow sticks made their own light show.

As the night grew on and twilight came the countdown of cherry bombs signaled the approaching and much-anticipated fireworks show.

We all oohed and awed at the night sky. Laughing like young kids, yelling, “That’s my favorite!” The finale ended with applause across the grassy lawn. And within minutes we were piled in our cars, filed into a line of head and tail lights and slowly inched our way out to our home destinations.

That’s the celebration of America. Sounds of summer nights, lying in the grass, oohing at the night sky and making friends of strangers.

Today is the simple holiday of barbecue, salt potatoes and apple pie.  It’s paper plates and solo cups. Clean up is simple, gifts of laughter, yard games and lemonade are exchanged and every one shares in the ease of the day.

Happy Independence Day, friends!    Enjoy your day!

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