Quickly give me an answer: What is your favorite holiday?
Does thinking about the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas trifecta and all the work that it entails make you break into a cold sweat like me?
When you’re a kid, Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are the cream of the crop – there’s usually a new toy to look forward to or a fun costume to dress up in. As I got older, into my teenage years, I remember the extra stress those big holidays put on our mom, as she tried her best to give us beautiful memories, while making big meals, buying all of the gifts for everyone, getting costumes ready, and staying “in the spirit” through it all. It took its toll on her, as it does for every parent as the cost and expectations seem to rise year to year.
But there was always something different about the 4th of July. Something more relaxed and happier. And now that I’m a mom – I GET IT!
It’s still a big holiday, with traditions and a thematic color scheme, not to mention a fireworks display to end the night. But without the fuss of all the other big-time celebrations, there’s so much more time to kick back and enjoy the day. There’s no trying to find or make that perfect costume for each child, or helping carve a pumpkin and buying candy in bulk while trying not to eat it all before the big holiday (despite the fact that I buy Reese’s cups every year, somehow nobody gets them in their trick-or-treat bag).
Nope, a pair of blue jean shorts and some regular red and white shirts with maybe a fun hairbow are all it takes to be festive! There is no gift buying, no last minute runs to the store to pick up a reciprocal gift for that neighbor who evidently thought you were closer than you had realized. Instead, you might need to run last minute to the grocery store to grab some extra sparklers and pop-its, and maybe a spare box of bomb-pop popsicles because hanging out in the backyard enjoying the warm weather requires an extra cold treat while the kids try to hit the chalk bullseye with their mini explosives.
There’s no huge meal to plan and prepare and clean up after. Growing up, we joined our close friends for a big barbeque every year where everyone brought dishes to share while kids played loudly and joyfully, running between the back and front yards of the house with sprinklers and water balloons, and that’s a tradition I’m working on building with friends.
The longer I’m a mom, the more I appreciate the simplicity of this sweet, underappreciated holiday. I mean, yeah, it’s about our birth as a country and all that jazz. I’ll definitely be swaying to America by Ray Charles and wiping my eyes when that rocket’s red glare goes exploding into a gorgeous fireworks display. But to me, the beauty of the 4th of July also lies in spending a summer day off with my family, just enjoying being together.