Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Celebrating freedom ...
What does freedom mean to you?
Is it the right to worship the way you see fit ... the absence of tyranny? ... the liberty to speak up for what you believe without fear of losing your life? Perhaps the right to bear arms to protect your life, family and property?
To teens, freedom might be getting their driver's license or moving out on their own. To those on a restricted diet, freedom might mean splurging on occasion. There are many definitions of freedom, and the way we celebrate it varies.
When our children were younger, we taught them the story behind the freedoms they enjoy here in America. They heard about the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's ride and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Along with those action-packed and celebrated events of early America, we shared other freedom stories from more recent history ...
... the freedom to reunite with family and friends when the Berlin Wall fell
... the freedom purchased for others by our brave troops
... the freedom won for civil rights of all people, regardless of color
... the freedom to choose our own style of education
We focused on freedom every July 4th and made it a special event for the kids. You can see them here with a cake they decorated in 1987. Just look at those proud grins!
Celebrating Independence Day was always a big deal at our house. A week early, my hubby would purchase a large pack of kid-friendly goodies that danced and sparkled, popped and wiggled. He then got something bigger and badder for himself -- the Roman candles, which would be shot off in a safe area.
We let our kiddos stay up late on those special nights. Summer skies don't really turn dark until 9 PM, you know, and they loved being in on the action! After supper, bath and pajamas, they would prance around the house and watch the clock.
"How much longer NOW?" was a question I answered a dozen times, at least. Then, when their Daddy gave the okay, they'd dash outdoors while hollering back over their shoulders -- "C'mon, Mom!"
In those days, I realllly didn't care to participate in the revelry outdoors. I could do without the noise and I sure wasn't crazy about the bugs! Call me a spoil sport, but after running interference and caring for three little people all day, I kinda liked the peace and quiet inside our house.
I look back now and realize part of that need to recede into the background was due to exhaustion and a lack of proper rest. Too many nights, I was up all hours trying to keep up with a busy household. The work was never done, but I kept chipping away.
But out I'd go, planning to stay about 10 minutes and slip back inside while Daddy was on duty. for at least awhile. Down at the end of the driveway I'd slide in behind them and listen to their chatter.
"Hey, did you see that one, Dad?"
"Look, sissy! I'm writing my initials in the air..."
I'd stand there and stare up at a blanket of stars, listening to the deep voice of my best man and the childish tones of our precious little ones at play.
The people I loved most in the whole world were within reach. Thankfully, they weren't in a hospital room or caught in the crossfire of snipers at war. They were here, in our neighborhood, in front of our home and on our own property.
Breathing deeply, I'd thank God we were healthy and happy and we were a family. In moments, they'd be clamoring inside for a treat of ice cream and July 4th cake. Earlier that day, we'd had the right to drive our own car to town and purchase whatever we wanted to eat whenever we wanted it. We had the freedom to do so.
That night, we would tuck our children into their own beds and kiss them goodnight, then retire to the living room and relive the evening and their delight. There were no soldiers banging on our doors to snatch us into the night. No fears of our children being left orphans if we got hauled off to jail for voting a certain way ... None of that, because we had the blessed privilege of freedom given to us by a loving God.
So we'd brush our teeth and head toward bed to sleep without interruption. Then we'd get up again in the morning and start the day as we chose ... and enjoy our freedoms all over again.
When you think about it, we all celebrate the gift of freedom every day of the year. I think our children have a handle on that attitude. The way they enjoy life and look at every day as a new adventure --- there's a lesson in there for all of us.