Happy Independence Day!

I am sitting in my living room watching the news, reading Facebook and drinking my morning cup of joe.  It has been a good weekend!  I shared dinner with my good friend and her husband Friday night.  Saturday was spent cleaning my garage.  Sunday morning was spent worshiping and then finishing up my garage and doing laundry.  Sunday night, I watched The Help. (Fabulous movie if you haven’t seen it. I know I am a little behind the times.) When I climbed into bed last night, I opened the blinds in my bedroom and was able to watch the fireworks at the mall across the street, from the cool, coziness of my bed.  (One of my favorite things about my townhouse.)  Today, I am defrosting my freezer (it’s an old freezer), working on paper work, preparing food for my week’s worth of lunches and maybe I’ll watch another good movie tonight.  (I love movies!)

Notice in my list of holiday weekend activities there is no mention of family picnics, parades, parties, gatherings, my sons, my parents… It is pretty much just Risa (my 13 year old Cavachon) and I hanging out and getting things done around my house in hopes of bringing some semblance of order to my little sanctuary I call home!  For me, this weekend is not about celebrating it is about ordering my world.

I have spent many holidays alone since my divorce 13 years ago.  Some have been hard, others have been harder and I continually challenge myself regarding this phenomenon.  My grandma used to say that a holiday is just another day.  It doesn’t matter when you celebrate or if you celebrate.  It really is about relationships, not the day.  So, I continually remind myself of this wise Grandma fact. Today, July 4, 2016 is just another day.

Grandma’s advice served my family well as I was growing up.  My dad was a firefighter/EMT.  He worked 24 hours on and had 48 hours off.  As a result, we didn’t have Dad around on many holidays.  We had to celebrate on different days and in different ways.  We did this a lot.  I remember the year we ate Thanksgiving dinner at Fire Station #6 with the other firefighters and their families.  It was a big potluck and we celebrated as best we could in such tight quarters with 6 men and their families.  It was great but certainly not the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner that many were celebrating.  Funny, it is one of the few Thanksgivings of which I have pretty clear memories. That is probably because there was nothing ‘traditional’ about it.  (Other than the turkey!)

As I spend this holiday weekend alone it would be easy to sit and feel sorry for myself. (As I re-read the above, I guess I would feel sorry for me! How festive is cleaning the garage?!)  But, I learned a long time ago that we need to live deliberately and with intention.  I am alone this weekend, but because my relationships are important to me I have made future plans to celebrate the relationships that are most special to me.  You see, next weekend I will be traveling back to Cedar Falls to celebrate Mom’s 80th birthday with her and Dad. The next weekend, Brad and Steve will be coming to West Des Moines to celebrate their 31st and 28th birthdays, respectively.  I have two wonderful weekends to celebrate the relationships that are most important to me.  Although I can’t be with them all today, I have intentionally made plans that I am looking forward to this month.  I am actually really excited about the next two weekends. Those plans made with my family have helped fill me up this weekend so that I can get things done around home rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

I am sharing this all with you because I know there are many who find being alone on the holidays to be difficult.  I get it.  I would just challenge you to think ahead and make a plan or two.  If you want to celebrate, make it happen. Host a gathering.  Invite family/friends to meet for dinner.  Don’t wait to be invited, do the inviting.  And, if it doesn’t work to celebrate on the holiday itself, then plan ahead.  Pick a day in the future to gather with those you love. Organize, connect, and figure it out.  If it is important to you, make it happen!

Above all else, don’t get wrapped up in the calendar.  A holiday is just another day. Celebrations are about celebrating relationships with the people who are important to us. Not the day.  Make a new tradition.  Create a new reason for celebration.  Be the master of your festive energy and find something good to do on the actual day so that the joy of taking care of you and your home (or someone else’s) fills an otherwise lonely day.

Happy Independence Day to you all!  I pray your day is filled with all that you need – not what our culture says you need – but what you need!  Make it happen!