What do you think of when you think of 4th of July? There are fireworks and parades, patriotic songs and speeches, parties and picnics, but what’s the underlying element in all of it? For most people, it’s family. Maybe your favorite Independence Day memory is that time your uncles were shooting off fireworks, and one of them was so big and loud that all the moms and little kids ran inside to hide. Or maybe you remember eating watermelon with your grandfather, seeing how far you could spit the seeds. Whether it’s making an apple pie with Grandma or watching the parade with all the cousins, for most of us the 4th of July will always bring fond memories of childhood fun with family.
Today, things are a little different than they were a generation ago. Families are more spread out and insulated, and it’s likely that your children don’t spend as much time with the extended family as you remember spending when you were a child. This deficit can be painfully driven home when the family experiences a loss. Maybe, as you start making plans for 4th of July this year, you can start to think about those connections, strengthening family bonds while there’s still time, and honoring those you’ve lost by making new memories together.
1. Reach out to family. If you have family nearby, make plans to get together. Maybe you’ll host a barbecue at your house, or a picnic in the park, or maybe you’ll all just plan to meet together for the local parade. The togetherness is the point, so it doesn’t have to be elaborate. If your family lives too far away to get together, send a card or note to commemorate the day. Maybe you can enclose an old photo to remind them of fun times together, or maybe your children can draw pictures to send along. If you’ve recently experienced a loss, that’s an even better reason to reach out to each other, because sharing each other’s sadness can make it more bearable.
2. While talking about our nation’s history, talk to your kids about family history. Every American family has a story to tell about the heroes within it. Maybe your grandfather served in World War 2, or maybe you can trace your roots back further, maybe even to the Revolutionary War! Talk about family members who have passed away, sharing memories of times spent with them. Keep your family’s stories alive by sharing them with your children, and you’ll help them develop a connection to and pride in their family ties.
3. On Independence Day, remember that relying on each other is important, too. In our modern culture, we’re all so independent that we sometimes forget the importance of having people on whom to depend. Teach your children the importance of family, because connections between family members are the bonds that sustain us in the darker times of life. Our nation’s independence couldn’t have been won if people didn’t work together, and families don’t thrive if they don’t nurture their connections.
4. Make something, to make memories. Get the kids to make place cards in red, white and blue. Get them into the kitchen to help layer pound cake with whipped cream and berries. Let them “help” Daddy or Grandpa set up for fireworks or grill the burgers. The best way to make memories with children is to pull them close to you and involve them in what you’re doing. If you’ve recently lost someone dear, remember that person by making their favorite dish or participating in an activity they always loved.
We know that family is important. That’s why we offer resources to help support families, whether they’re grieving a loss or just trying to find ways to connect. Visit our website today, to learn more about how we can help your family. In the meantime, we wish you a meaningful July 4th!