“Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?” I asked.
We were walking back from a local fireworks show. I was about five years old, my sister about six, and my younger brother still two years away. I may have been riding on my father’s shoulders, but more likely I was chasing fireflies on the walk home. His answer stopped me in my tracks.
“The whole country celebrates your mom’s birthday.”
I had never before made the connection that mom’s birthday was also the country’s birthday.
He grinned. “Yup, it started a couple years before you were born. First just locally, but after a year or two, the whole country started celebrating.”
I looked at mom, awestruck, but she only smiled.
“What did you think of the fireworks tonight?” My dad asked.
I paused. At five, fireworks still scared me a little. I understood the concept of fire and how easily it can get out of control. I shrugged. “They were OK.”
He knew I’d spent most of the display with my head buried into my mom’s sweater-covered shoulder. She always wears sweaters, with pockets for her tissue of course.
I walked the rest of the way in contemplative silence, mulling over this new information and thinking how special my mom was. It was a couple years later, while in school that I learned the truth of the holiday. But I still think my mom is special enough for a holiday of her own.