It's been sixty years, but the memories of our family's 4th of July traditions are still vivid. During the day, my sisters, brother and I would be given black "worms" to watch. We'd squeal with delight as the lighted circle of coal started growing into a long worm. With the coming darkness, we were allowed to wave our sparklers around as we watched the light dance in patterns. We then had to place the white-hot sticks into a metal bucket of water. We all anticipated this fun each year.
Since the 4th of July is a few days away, I started feeling melancholy. Over the years I have felt some family traditions slipping away as the children have grown up and left our home. "Why is it," I questioned my husband, "that traditions hold such importance in our lives?" After a little reading, I came to the realization that traditions are not only important to family connections, they are vital to holding a society together.
Here are more reasons why traditions matter:
They provide a bond to other groups, giving us a sense of comfort and belonging
They help remind us where we came from and our identity as a family, neighborhood or country
They reinforce what we value as a group: freedom, faith, personal responsibility
They serve as a way of creating lasting memories
They provide a way to celebrate the history of your country
For the past 14 years, our neighborhood of twenty-two homes has celebrated the 4th of July with a BBQ, some games and fireworks in the street. From this tradition, our neighborhood has bonded in a way that is now becoming extinct across America. As a child, I remember being acquainted with all the neighbors on our street. But today it is much more common to only know the neighbor next door to you. I just can't imagine living life so isolated. But this is now the norm.
As we celebrate the birth of our country soon, let's use that freedom that others died to give us. Let's get out of our comfort zone and go talk to a neighbor we don't know yet. Think about starting a new tradition this year that includes extending a sense of belonging to someone who isn't' a member of your group (family, neighborhood, church, community activity). Be courageous and create some new memories!
If you are reading this on Facebook or LinkedIn, I'd like to personally invite you to come visit me on my website at www.sparklinghope.net and read more of my blogs on health, inspiration and education about special needs. Have a safe and Happy 4th of July!