Oklahoma City family fun shines at different times of the year and Independence Day is one of those can’t-miss holidays that should feel amazing for children and adults.
I absolutely love this holiday. July 4 is my second only to Thanksgiving in my book and a close tie with Halloween. Last year, though, was less-than-amazing and my memories of it just aren’t the best. It was hot, I was reading “Fried Green Tomatoes” by Fannie Flagg and my toddler spilled ruby red nail polish on our carpet; another child later spilled fruit punch across my smartphone and the day did not go to plan. LibertyFest, our go-to community celebration, was at a different location and I just felt confused and irritable with a young baby who was, at that time, barely sleeping.
It ended up shifting around and being mostly fine, with a fireworks show at night and Flattire s’mores. July 4 is the one day a year I will eat a hotdog or a hamburger since I’m mostly pescatarian so that’s always memorable in a funny way as my kids marvel at the sight of mom eating meat. We always do shift it around and enjoy these family holidays that are stressful somehow. As a very anxious person to begin with, holidays make it worse, with their implicit expectations and possible disappointments. Summer seems like the best time to step away and really enjoy it so I’ve learned how to do that better as the years with children have gone on for our family.
Here are three tips for a less stressful July 4:
- Decide what you want to do: Use our Independence Day Fun Guide to find what you want to do and go from there with planning. July 4 has one advantage: it’s rare you’re actually late to an Independence Day event. They seem to be pretty fluid, with vague start times like “dusk.” Everything feels festive already. If you do want something more formal, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s free Independence Day celebration starts at 10 a.m. after the holiday, on Saturday, July 6, and includes live music, a cake walk and other holiday-themed activities as well as museum admission without charge. I like that it’s not on actual Independence Day so we don’t overcommit. Click here for eight local fireworks shows.
- Manage your own expectations: July 4 feels messy. There’s always watermelon, drinks that spill and something sticky like ice cream or marshmallows or cake. Just know this is the day for it. You can have other, tidier holidays but this one’s accessories include sweat, sunscreen and bug spray. Bonus points for Popsicles. If you’re not the type of person who feels bothered with summer’s unique variety of mess, good for you. Know that it just may not go the way you’re planning and that’s part of summer’s wild charm. Dust off the lawn chairs, shop early and enjoy the day.
- Let kids be kids: My oldest son is 12 and his interest in fireworks shows has turned to setting off the fireworks themselves, which is definitely on the no-no list within city limits. I’ll take that excitement, though, along with the absolute joy I see in his brothers’ faces as they festoon our driveway in sidewalk chalk American flags and covet Kona Ice snowcones. That kind of happiness is unique to right now, to our country even, and I’ll take it. I want, for one day, to be a kid again alongside them.
One of my very best memories of July 4 is watching our neighbor kids’ parents act much younger than they were, really get into the fun. No one had smartphones circa 1995 and as much as I love to take photos of my kids, I just might turn mine off for the day. No matter how you spend yours, I hope the joy of childhood with its carefree fun comes rushing back to you. Independence from other responsibilities at home and at work are a subtle theme to the day too somehow.
While I’m always grateful for life and liberty, just this one time, that pursuit of happiness has its moment.
Happy Independence Day to you, parent/caretaker/kid-turned-