The Fourth of July celebration for our clan has typically been a family event. We're used to gathering together for a restorative day of playfulness to reconnect with each other, and somewhere hidden amongst the bar-b-que sauce, beach balls and sunscreen, there is the underlying point of honoring our freedom.
Our celebrations always included a variety of comfort foods, music, and some splashing in the ocean or in a pool somewhere. When the kids were little we also sought out a place that would provide a good vantage point for fireworks -- a guaranteed hit for all ages.
This year, things are different. The most striking change is that we're not all together to celebrate this Independence Day. It's the first time I can remember being separated from all four of my kids on such a holiday. What can I do...we're all busy. With grown kids with kids of their own, and college kids with studies and internships, it's not easy to keep all my ducks in a row. The family is growing up and growing out; there's a lot of independence nowadays.
But just before I began to feel just a tiny bit sorry for myself for not having all my family together for this special family holiday, I had a couple of other, more important thoughts, and said a little prayer of gratitude. One of those thoughts was about our service men and women stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other bases and places around the globe who've been missing their families for months, even years. While it's true my family is separated by vacations, obligations and logistics and I miss them, what of the families left behind by our brave soldiers stationed so far from home, who long daily to hold their loved ones close again?
And then I thought about Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages who just now, after six long years in captivity, held hostage by FARC in the jungles of Colombia, have been reunited with their families. Betancourt's two children are six years older than the last time she saw them. I cannot begin to imagine the agony she endured during those long, torturous years. My God, do I have a lot to be thankful for.
This Independence Day, though my loved ones are celebrating separately from me, I know they are safe, and free to do so. My kids are growing up in the land of the free and the brave, just as I did, and we are all living with freedom that was hard won. What we must never forget is that our freedom is continually being paid for.
I will spend this day thinking not only about my own family, but about those who are protecting our freedom right now.
Happy Independence Day to the US of A.
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