Pondering Independence Day

Posted on July 4, 2014 by

The 4th of July, for me, isn’t the kind of holiday I really look forward to. I live in a small town. We have the parades, the pancake breakasts, the picnics, the gathering-together-in-the-park kind of celebrations. We have the swimming pools, the BBQs, the kids riding decorated bikes through town.

It just doesn’t speak to my independent spirit.

squirrel solitude

I’m not a big crowd kind of person. I love the quiet, I love small gatherings, I love solitude. I love home.

I’m not anti-social, really. I like people; well, some people. I don’t like stepping over sweaty bodies laying all over the grass. I always got nervous when my kids were little and it got dark and I couldn’t see where they were. Now that they’re teens, I get nervous because they’re too big to cling to, and too old to stay by my side. Independence turned against me, I suppose.

We’ve celebrated Independence Day lots of different ways. Sometimes we’ve gone to the foothills to hang out with just one other family. We sat on their deck, the kids rode their horses and let off LOTS of fireworks. We’ve spent the 4th at the lake, riding bikes from home to Squaw Valley and back, then battling the crowds for blanket space and then sat in traffic after the last sparkler burned out. We’ve stayed at a bed and breakfast, just the two of us, and rode bikes around the Gold Country. One year , on a trip out of state, we danced around fireworks that seemed more like hand grenades being flung by passers-by. That didn’t speak to my spirit at all.

When I was little, the 4th often meant trips to my grandparent’s house in the Bay Area. Grandpa would have brought home ‘illegal’ fireworks from Chinatown, and the cousins would light up the long, covered porch with sparklers and those snake-like ones that left an enticing trail of ash as proof that we really lit it. Lighting anything was a true sign of independence.

This Independence Day morning, I ponder the day ahead. My girl is long gone, skiing for the summer on top of a glacier in Oregon. No picnics with her today – she’s enjoying her own independent spirit. My boy is planning teenage shenanigans and reliably unreliable for family time, but horribly independent. My husband is working; I guess it’s just me and my dog. Maybe I’ll take a walk and watch the parade from a distance.  I’m sure I could dig up a few glow sticks tonigh – no sparklers, though. Light a BBQ, sit under the trees on my patio, listening to the festivities going on down the block. Independent.

I think I’ll just listen to my own spirit, and ponder the real meaning of Independence Day.


Dear reader, how do you celebrate Independence Day? Do you listen to your own spirit, and do what you want to do?

This post was inspired by today’s prompt |ponder| from writealm.com.


Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Comments: 8

  • Stephanie

    July 10, 2014

    What a great post! I know exactly what you mean. I’m normally not into big crowds. And this year we took our daughter to see the fireworks. My husband had to do a lot of talking me into us going. I’m not sure if I’m a people person anymore. I’d like to think that I am. Sometimes my mind tells me otherwise. I enjoy simple moments at home, with family. I think I will be like you once my children leave my home. I will have a lot of time to think things through. 🙂

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      July 11, 2014

      Hi Stephanie! Thanks for the comment; I wonder if once we have small children, our instincts tell us to stay put and stay safe! And yes on the more time…it’s amazing what happens when the kids aren’t around so much! ~Jennifer

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      July 8, 2014

      Hilary, I saw all the rain on the news, and wondered what that must have been like – was your community one that rescheduled? To me, cooking all day sounds like a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon! Thanks for commenting ~Jennifer

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      July 8, 2014

      Sarah, it’s actually kind of surprising to me how many people have reacted in kind with this post – I guess I’m not as alone in my quest for quiet as I thought! Thanks for stopping by ~Jennifer

  • amanda

    July 4, 2014

    i’m with you — no crowds please. not on independence day. not any day. we usually bbq and the kids run around the backyard with sparklers, it’s low key, just like we like it!
    amanda recently posted…Write Now | Summer 2014My Profile

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      July 8, 2014

      Amanda, low key is perfect for me, too…but now that my kids are older, I do miss the joy in their eyes as they watch the fireworks…Hope you had a dry and uneventful holiday! ~Jennifer

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