What do you think of when you think of July 4th?
Perhaps it’s fireworks or BBQs? Or maybe it’s all the Americana themed clothing you’ve been itching to wear since Memorial Day?
Whatever your version of July 4th, it’s certainly not a day to go by unnoticed. For many people it means a day off from work. One that falls in the middle of the week and provides a respite from the endless summer days. And if you’re a pet owner, you are likely aware of the day because your pets are more clingy than usual once the firecrackers start popping. Or maybe you are incredibly patriotic and recognize the day because of its original meaning - a day to mark the signing of the Declaration of Independence. For me, it’s a little bit of all of these things all wrapped up with a birthday ribbon for my sister. She was born on the Fourth of July.
It’s interesting when you’re birthday aligns with a common holiday. In some ways, there is a split focus. Your birthday is about you but also about other holiday festivities. If you have to share your birthday with a holiday, July 4th is a pretty good one. It’s all about celebrating and since many get the day off from work, the family can more easily be together.
As a younger sister, I envied my sister and her birthday. For starters, no one ever forgot her birthday. My birthday is a random day in November that sometimes falls on Election Day. Nobody but politicians wants to celebrate that day. Plus, on July 4th, the food was plentiful and we got to play outside. Often we would travel into town and watch the fireworks celebration. We would sit in the bed of the pickup truck and watch as the explosions lit up the sky over the lake. People would honk their horns enthusiastically when a particularly good fireworks display shot up.
Everything seemed great about July 4th to me. However, my sister has a different story. Just like with anything, having your birthday on a holiday is a mixture of plusses and minuses. Her birthday was pretty locked in as a family event including travelling to town to see fireworks. This was especially true after she became a mom. The day was more about the holiday than about celebrating her birthday. Did she want to do something out of the ordinary? Too bad. It’s the Fourth of July. We eat chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, and watermelon. Then we go to the park. Done.
She never complained, mind you, but she did share this alternate perspective with me once. It had just never occurred to me that her birthday was anything less than awesome. It goes to show that all of us have different lives and different viewpoints. You never really know what someone else’s experience is like until you ask them and they share their story. It is why each person’s story is precious and deserves preservation. We are all unique. No member of your family will experience the same event in the same way.
What about you? What have you experienced that might be counter-intuitive to those around you? Maybe you dislike dogs because one once bit you. Or, maybe you love Shakespeare because your teacher praised you when you read aloud in junior high school. What is imprinted on you because of your unique experience?
We are all products of our thinking, our environment, and our perspective. If you are perplexed about why a member of your family does a certain thing or acts a certain way, ask them. See what story unfolds.