Monday, July 4, 2011

The American Family

Happy 4th of July everybody!

Ahh…4th of July, one of my favorite holidays. A time for BBQs with family, sparklers, corn on the cob, watermelon, worrying about whether the fumes from the bug spray that I have sprayed 1000 times on my kids will harm them, and of course wondering if the fireworks will delight or terrify the kids this year!

The 4th to me is a time to celebrate our country, and what better way to do this then by spending the day with what truly makes our country, PEOPLE. I, like most people, do this by spending time with my family. Our tradition is to head to my home town and have a BBQ at my parents house. For me there is no better way to celebrate the true meaning of this holiday than by being with my American family.

Our BBQ is incredibly predictable…my Mom WILL make her famous cream corn, our hometown radio station of WZOE will be on all afternoon, Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA WILL play during the grand finale of our small town fireworks, my nephew Nate WILL fall asleep during the fireworks (and we will all take bets on if this will be his year to stay up), my daughter J WILL cover her ears from the loud noises, my Grandma WILL sing her admittedly politically incorrect version of a famous 4th song, I WILL follow the fabulous 5 (my three kids and my two nephews) like paparazzi trying to catch the perfect cousins shot, I WILL sit with my Grandma and talk about how much we miss my Grandpa and how he would "direct" family traffic on the 4th so we always had the perfect place to sit for the fireworks. And yes I WILL laugh.

And that’s what I love about the holiday, it like my family, is... well predictable. The predictability of my family is one of the great mysteries to me because our lives have been anything but "predictable".  We have been through everything...divorce, death, drama. Let me just put it this way...we could be our own reality show we have been through so much. So what I love the most about my family is even though life has not been predictable to us, we are predictable to each other. Through my highs and lows my family has always remained in the middle, they are "home" to me.  I can't tell you how amazing that feels to know that in my highest highs or my lowest lows my family will be a constant.

I usually think about this when we are all lined up on my parents driveway waiting for the fireworks (which are always (also) predictably late) to start. I’ll be sitting there amongst my family, peering over the small chairs which hold the five most important kids in my life, and the thought will always cross my mind how lucky I am to have a family like I have. A true American family…a family that has seriously been through pretty much everything there is together, and came out closer, stronger, and happier. A family made up of different personalities, yet a common bond. I sit there amongst my extended family: My Mom who is my rock, my sister-in-law who is my parenting sound board and mentor, my brother who is one of the few that “gets” my sense of humor, my Grandma who I can honestly say is one of my best friends, my step-dad who gives me the Grandpa I always dreamed for my kids. And of course my husband and my kids who are my life. And then my mind will go to my other brother and his wife who live in Texas, who we miss so much that we often call them on Skype during family get togethers. And then the kids…who make me laugh and make me young again. I sit there amongst my husband, kids, and my extended family and feel truly whole, truly at peace with the world, and truly happy.

I think that is what is the best thing about the American family. Because of our lives, we all have "abnormal" families, we all have "broken" homes in some fashion, we all don't fit the family mold from the Donna Reed black and white tv shows I used to watch on Nick at Nite with my parents when I was a kid. I mean read any magazine or newspaper and what will you see...divorce on the rise, the American family falling apart, studies on how screwed up kids are because of their "non-textbook" families.  Society tells us that most of us have family discord that (according to them) will ruin the American Family.

But you know what, it hasn't. I look at my family and I see an example of how what society would deem an abormal, broken family is actually closer because of the drama than the perfect family. A family that is perfect no matter what imperfections are thrown its way.

So today as you celebrate the 4th….take time to celebrate your family and be truly grateful for our country,  summer, fireworks, and the American family!


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