How does your family celebrate independence year-round?

The big fireworks display at the lakefront is a highlight of my year. Virtually every year, unless it is really rained out, we are staking out our place around the Art Museum, as close to the water as we can be, without actually being in it.

I usually get there first to  arrange the blankets so that there is enough room for whoever is coming and whoever decides to come at the last minute. Everyone wanders down sometime between 5 pm and 9:44 pm. Everyone brings something to eat. Everyone brings or does something to help pass the time till the big show begins. Then, everyone “ooh’s and ahh’s” together for the biggest, brightest and loudest fireworks.

I find it interesting.  On the day we, as a nation, celebrate our independence, we often gather in big crowds,  family and friends for parades, picnics, concerts and fireworks. Independence Day is something we celebrate “together.” A parade of one person is not much of a parade. A concert with one random instrument is not much of a concert. I would not take the time to prepare the food we like for the 4th if I were cooking only for myself. The incredible fireworks display is simply impossible for one person to design and implement.  The reality is that no matter how independent we are as individuals or as families, our independence can only happen because we are dependent on others.

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

It’s like that for families, too. As children, we can’t wait for the day we are independent and on our own. Parents launch their late teen or young adult children into the world one their own. Married couples often start out thinking it’s just the two of them. Then one day, we realize we can never be completely on our own or independent. We need other people and they need us. What we do or don’t do and how we do or don’t do it affects other people, just as what others do or don’t do affect us.

In whatever way, you and yours celebrate Independence Day, I encourage you to quietly take a few moments and look around you. Who or what is happening to make your holiday better? What would your holiday be like if that person or people were not there?

We are all in this Independence Day thing together. In whatever way you practice gratefulness, practice it for those people and the things they do or the presence they bring to Independence Day.

Aurora Family Service helps families overcome challenges, changes and crisis to live well again. We achieve stability and strength for families through counseling, parenting, elder care, financial, career, health and community services.  For more information, visit our website, follow us onFacebook, or call 1-414-342-4560.

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