Most people have a favorite holiday. A time of the year filled with magical memories and excitement. For me, it has always been the 4th of July. My hometown does a week-long celebration and the local community joins in as well. 4 fireworks shows, 3 parades, picnic in the park, street dances, a giant domino fall… the list goes on. Now that I am an adult this holiday serves two purposes. One is to spend time with my family and pass this tradition on to my children and the other is to enjoy a week-long vacation to re-charge and rejuvenate. In my 30+ years of life, I have only missed one hometown 4th of July. Because of my graduate school schedule. Because I couldn’t get a flight back on July 3rd after my training session was complete. Because the price for the plane ticket was significantly cheaper to fly back to Wisconsin on July 4. As you may or may not be able to tell from the “tone of my voice,” it was a difficult sacrifice that I am still bitter about. In the words of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.” Truly. As an adolescent I couldn’t wait to live and experience the world outside of small-town Upper Michigan. As an adult, I’d give just about anything to go back. It’s funny how we can attach ourselves to a town, finding comfort within its boundaries.
I am not the only one who finds comfort in “going home.” Keith Urban sings about the comforts of home in his newest single, crooning “there’s a place that I know where they all know me, I gotta get back now to the ones who love me… there’s nothing in the world that feels like that place I know where they all know me… there’s nothing in the world that feels like coming home…” The lyrics are very relatable on many different levels. Psychology Today shares that we develop emotional attachments to places throughout our lifetimes. Within this is the idea that our childhood home is a part of personal identity for many people. In other words, the childhood home becomes an extension of one’s self. Home is where we spend a majority of our time, which contributes to many different emotional experiences. For me and many of my childhood friends, and for other generations, celebrating the 4th of July brings back a variety of emotional memories. Parades, fireworks, activities, and socialization. A time to relax with no real time schedule, no firm commitments, no deadlines. A time to reconnect with old friends. Time to celebrate our hometown. That hometown that is an extension of ourselves. The one that contributed to who we are now.
There are parts of going home that are certainly painful. The loss of my mother in 2009 and the memories from that first 4th of July without her. The loss of my sweet Labrador Retriever mix who loved nothing more than chasing fireworks and spending time outdoors, off of her leash. Family and friends who have started new traditions with their respective families who no longer make the trek north for the holiday. Yet with the sadness, comes healing and opportunities to reflect and grow. To mourn the loss, but continue with the healing. To enjoy the moment in the present. To be thankful for the ability to have family traditions. To embrace those you will run into at parades and parks after years of not seeing each other. The magic behind catching up with a long lost friend or former teacher. And most of all, to spend time with family and share the tradition with the next generation. For me, the 4th of July is so much more than celebrating the United States’ Independence. It’s about family and that feeling that only being home can bring. I encourage you all to reflect on your memories of home, the good and the bad. Embrace how home has contributed to who you are and who you can become. Most importantly, I encourage you to reflect on things you are thankful for and live in the moment.
Psychology Today. You Can Go Home Again, and Maybe You Should. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/returning-home/201103/you-can-go-home-again-and-maybe-you-should