Something I learned from my dad was to find joy in those around you. My dad was stoic, to put it mildly; but when we would have family gatherings (and we have a large family with seven kids), you would see how happy he was to have us all together. My fondest memories of my dad were of our epic backyard summer cookouts, which would kick off on Memorial Day weekend. There would be dozens of people just with immediate family and friends; sweet corn roasted in the husk and dipped in melted butter; brats grilled and then simmered in a sauce of beer, ketchup and onions served on German hard rolls; and enough side dishes to satisfy everyone’s tastes.
Country music would always be playing, and you would find my dad manning the grills, a wide grin plastered on his face while he played air guitar along with Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings as he broke his stoic front and let us see how happy he was, surrounded by his loved ones and cooking up delicious food. My parents would host these cookouts every summer when I was a kid, every Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day it seemed—plus whatever other day in the summer demanded a celebration. Eventually we all grew up, grew apart and the cookouts became fewer and farther between; but I’ll never forget them, and my siblings and I often reminisce about them, especially when these holidays roll around.
I hope you find plenty of moments in need of celebration this summer! And if you can’t plan around an official holiday then make up your own. And take a lesson from my dad—sit back and take a moment to immerse yourself in the joy of the moment.