This year the 4th of July fell on a Sunday. It’s a holiday that continues to be one that feels complicated to celebrate in so many ways. I have fond memories from my own childhood of family and friends gathering together, grilling out, playing with sparklers, and watching fireworks perched on blankets strewn across the lawn. Yet as an adult, a holiday that celebrates freedom in our nation when that freedom does not extend to everyone just doesn’t sit right. So in our house, we choose to celebrate hope – hope for a better, brighter future for all children.
Sundays around our house tend to be a favorite. For the past several years, we have celebrated them with a breakfast tradition where Paul makes us his “special” waffles or crepes from scratch. He preps the batter and then, while we wait for it to be ready, we ease into our morning with cartoons, coffee, and adult conversation (thanks to the cartoons). While Paul cooks, I prep the toppings. Then we all gather around the table and pile our plates with fresh fruits, colorful sprinkles, and other deliciousness.
On this particular day though, Paul and I started the morning off out of sync. He had been working the previous seven evenings and more often than not, those long runs of shifts leave us feeling disconnected. We had some different ideas of how we wanted the holiday to pan out and we had to hash it out a bit before we settled on sticking close to home and just spending time together. It left us both feeling a little grumpy and unenthused.
After breakfast, we moved our little party of four out onto the front porch. You know what they say about fresh air and sunshine?! We both hoped it might improve our moods. I’d been wanting to take photos of the boys and the nice weather was beckoning me. It had been over a month since I’d felt any inspiration to pull out my DSLR camera. Too often I forget how much joy I get from picking it up to collect ordinary moments of our lives.
Paul had decided he would repair the accelerator pedal on the boy’s jeep so they could finally practice driving it without one of us remotely controlling it. He brought out his tools and handed out a few screwdrivers to the boys and got to work. Ten minutes later, Noah approached me with a huge satisfied smile on his face. He was holding a handful of tiny screws he had successfully removed from the jeep.
The slow start to our day and fresh air had finally started to work its magic on us. A refreshing dip in the inflatable pool, a festive lunch, and scootering in the driveway had us all feeling reconnected. Then came the real fun – smoke bombs and sparklers!
The excitement in their eyes over these simple delights was overwhelmingly contagious. We laughed and played and posed for photos. Running back and forth through the multi-colored smoke was probably their favorite part of the afternoon with sparklers coming in at a close second. This was the first year both boys were brave enough (and could be trusted!) to hold the sparklers by themselves. The scene from our front yard felt absolutely magical to me.
We closed out our festivities by sitting on the curb watching neighbors down the block shoot off some decent fireworks into the street. I snapped photos as the light gradually crept from the sky. Paul even asked me if I wanted him to take a few. This always means a lot to me. I love being able to hand off the camera so that I can BE IN the photos. Proof of mom. Someday I hope they will look back on these memories. And I want them to remember that I was here too. Experiencing the joy and excitement and fun of such a special day, right alongside them.
We sat together, watching the day fade into darkness. Bursts of color and light illuminated our silhouettes against the sky. Paul and I basked in the wonder and innocence on their faces, once again reminding us that the future is bright. And hope is always something to celebrate.