That Whole Holiday Thing

Moran Ironworks' Entry in this year's parade
Holidays serve many purposes, and IMHO, most of them are essential to humanity.
I say most because I'm not a big fan of the "it's a holiday so let's get drunk and do stupid stuff" mentality. Otherwise, I heartily approve of celebrating.

Holidays bring remembrance: Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Valentine's Day, Father's Day, whatever the "day," we pause to pay tribute to those who do or did their job well. That's a good thing, reminding us there's good in the world and giving us a chance to express gratitude for it.

Holidays bring us together: Yesterday our little town, whose streets are usually empty and whose businesses gasp for sustenance, was deluged with celebrants who come "home" each year, supposedly to watch the parade but really to ask "Who's around this weekend?" As a long-time, long-retired teacher, each year I get introduced to dozens of offspring, some of whom are even a tiny bit impressed that the woman who once taught their parent can still toddle down the street and make semi-intelligent conversation. We meet family and neighbors we don't see often enough in this age of not-visiting. We run into people we went to school with. We chat with those we once worked alongside and those who were for some brief time in the past part of our orbits before those orbits moved in another direction. It's all very cool.

Holidays allow us to do as little as possible: Because the day is set aside for celebrating, we don't have to make that to-do list. We don't run to the store to pick up a few things. We can allow ourselves the luxurious necessity of having nothing of importance to do.

And holidays remind us of the circle of life (cue African drums). As we gather around the table or on the street, we see each other growing older. We start taking into account how much Grandpa (or Aunt Bernice or even ourselves) will be able to do in a given day. Each year's celebration is similar, but each is a little different from the last. Familiar faces are missing. New faces peek out from strollers or over Daddy's shoulder. On the first Fourth of July after my mother died, I recall the shock I felt as we parked our car and walked toward the parade route. I had a sudden "I shouldn't do this without her moment." Of course I did, because I had to. Over the years we learn to approach holidays without our parents, our siblings, even our children with a feeling that it isn't the way it should be. Those empty spots are reminders that life doesn't last forever.

I hope your holiday was great, with remembering, family and friends, relaxation, and a little moment of realization that it won't always be like this. That's the way life is.


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