The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love that the entire country gets to together to celebrate one special day. A lot of people choose not to celebrate Christmas, or make a big meal on Thanksgiving with their families, but celebrating America’s birthday is different, at least for me. We should all feel lucky, privileged to be here, no matter our views on politics or the president, or current events. We should be happy, feel lucky.
I love the parades and police officers walking down the street waving flags. Eating apple pie and ice cream, swimming, and barbecuing. I love ending the day barefoot in the grass with sparklers and fireworks in the sky.
America is great, and I haven’t even seen that much of it. But we have history, national monuments, fantastic views, Hawaiian sunsets, Autumn leaves, Ellen Degeneres, drives through state parks in the middle of winter.Nights so cold it takes your breath away, mittened hands, and the sky so clear you feel like you must be looking at every single star. Walking through crunchy leaves, baking apple pie with my grandmother, picking out a Christmas tree in the winter, singing the National Anthem before sports games, my hand over my heart. My fingers pruning from the hours of strawberries I have put away at the kitchen table with my family, cinnamon scented candles, Pumpkin flavored iced coffee, snow angels, blasting Christmas music at 2am in the car on Black Friday, when half the time we choose not to buy anything at all and instead just like the tradition, being together. The first signs of Tulips in the springtime, the smell of the sea, the feel of sunshine on your skin after months of being so cold you felt like the world would never be warm again.
Days like this past week; hot and humid, taking breaks at the pool and driving to the nearest store to purchase water tubes to use before the sun goes down when it’s still ninety degrees outside.
Raspberry iced tea, egg Nog, the original Grinch that plays once a year, and being so, so sad when you miss it. Thunder and lightening for hours, thanking God for the silence and the time alone with just you and a brand new book.
I have some great memories, great moments that I have spent with my buddy America. I remember one Fall day in high school when I was taking horrible classes like Algebra and Chemistry and it was absolutely gorgeous outside. I was stuck inside doing homework when my father told me to grab my work and get in the car, that we were going for a drive. We drove for hours and ended up in Bar Harbor, Maine. And I might be biased, but in Autumn, Maine sure is beautiful. I remember driving in South Dakota with my cousins and grandmother, visiting Mount Rushmore and being in complete awe of the gigantic faces of past presidents carved into a mountainside.
I remember tubing at the lake, laughing so hard my stomach hurt and clinging to the sides with everything I had, hoping not to fall off. Driving out west over dirt roads, dust following you everywhere you go. Horses in pastures, black and white and brown and running faster then you ever could an order to catch up with you. Seashells, lemonade stands, homemade tree swings, reading Harry Potter under the large maple tree in my front yard. Walking through snow drifts after I got off the school bus, and wondering if I could possibly die from the five minute walk in zero degree weather.
And sometime soon I am going to plan a trip to New York City to shower some love on Lady Liberty, to to walk through Times Square, explore one of the largest toy stores in America, and take pictures with some of the largest Christmas decorations I will ever see. I will explore the Colorado Rockies, nap on the lawn in front of the White House, hike through the rainforest in Washington state, catch fireflies beside the Grand Canyon, and get drenched standing beside Niagara Falls. I want to travel, take a road trip that lasts me months, stand beside the Golden Gate Bridge, and get my picture taken like the other 6 billion people before me have. I want to appreciate all of America, not just a little piece of it.
Because no matter what, no matter my opinion on politics or the war, I am so thankful that I live in America. I’m thankful for the soldiers who serve us, who make America a place where I want to live. And it keeps things in perspective, doesn’t it? It reminds you that it doesn’t really matter if you can’t afford a new outfit, or the latest fill-in-the-blank. That it doesn’t quite matter if you haven’t been to the movies in six months. Does it? I can just go outside, go for a walk, admire the beauty around me that I know I take for granted so often. It reminds me that the things that I obsess over, whine about, crave, that they don’t really matter. It’s small, there are bigger things to think about, to love.
And it’s funny, because whenever I leave home, go on a vacation or a road trip, or explore another area, I always get that same funny feeling in my stomach. The feeling that reminds me how lucky am I to be here, to be alive, safe, with family who love me. And I can’t help but be so incredibly thankful that I get the opportunity to watch a fireworks display tomorrow, to eat watermelon and ice cream, to wear a new sundress at a parade in the middle of the city, and go to sleep in my warm bed, in my warm apartment after a swim in the pool, and know for a fact that there is nowhere else I would rather be.