Happy Fourth of July! The blasts from the cannon at Joseph's community center just shook the windows of my little cottage. It must be time to celebrate Independence Day in our small town.
Today will be a day for families filled with community breakfasts, parades, races, and fireworks. There's something for everyone on Independence Day in small town America, and Richfield is no exception.
Traditionally, our family always found a parking spot on the east side of Main Street in downtown Richfield to watch the parade. We preferred to have the sun at our backs instead of in our eyes. We'd bring camp chairs and blankets so we all had a place to sit, and the kids would run to gather the candy that was thrown from the parade entries. The kids would fill their dad's ball cap with Fruities and salt water taffy. We would watch the procession of farm tractors, simple floats, old cars, and the high school marching bands as the sun climbed the sky, making us glad the parade wasn't any longer than it was.
Today will be different. Today I am alone, and the big kids will celebrate the Fourth of July in their own towns. Bridger will march in the high school band himself this year. And I will proudly watch from the crowd, taking pictures as these teenaged musicians parade past, friends of Bridger's and former students of mine.
This morning, I was reading and responding to comments left on my blog. A fellow blogger had left this comment: "Blessings and Happy Fourth. Celebrate your independence!"
Once again, I am reminded that it is all in our frame of reference how we respond to our circumstances in life. Am I going to see this day for the gift that it is, or am I going to wish away the hours as they pass? Is the glass half full, or half empty? Am I going to see the clouds, or the silver lining?
The decision is mine, and I'm not going to waste a moment; I'm going to celebrate my own independence. Today will not only be a day for parades and fireworks, but also an opportunity to reflect and be grateful.
It's summer. That long, lonely winter is behind me now. I've grown as I've struggled to learn the lessons life brought my way. I'm stronger; I'm smarter; I'm happier. My circle of friends has grown, and there are those to whom I'll reach out today to feel that sense of connection that feeds my happiness. To be surrounded by the crowd of friendly faces in town today will be a good change of pace, and then I'll enjoy some time to myself at home before joining friends for a barbecue tonight.
Lonely or independent? Independent sounds good; sounds strong. I'm leaving the loneliness behind. Today will be a day of celebration. Happy Independence Day, indeed!