I’ve written about the Fourth of July here before. How I used to spend it on my grandparents’ farm – back when they had a farm – and there would be a giant fireworks display.

I did remember the movie I saw my first Fourth in Ohio – Magic Mike XXL. The theater was full of other women and it was amazing.

Two more Fourth of July memories occurred to me as well:

Closing Borders early (it was scheduled to close early, I didn’t go rogue). I think one of the employees gave a bullshit excuse and called out that day. Not like we were busy, but he was an asshole (who – surprise – I had a massive crush on).

The summer after I graduated from high school, my mom, grandmother, youngest sister, and I went to a family reunion in Colorado. I did not have a good time. I got elevation sickness. There was no one there my age or close to it. Distant relatives were talking shit about someone who wasn’t there (“she thinks she’s too good for us because she gots herselfs a education”). There was a signed picture of George W. Bush in a bedroom. But one thing stood out and that was a cousin about 13 or 14 years old setting off a bottle rocket from between his butt cheeks. As you can imagine, that did not go well at all for him.

This Fourth of July, I went with my neighbors to the local parade and walked alongside their float for a mayoral candidate. Then we went out to dinner a few hours later. It was the first time since moving here I’ve spent a lot of time with my neighbors, though they’re great people. I had zero plans for the Fourth until I took my dogs out on the third, they saw me as they were decorating their trailer/float and asked me if I wanted to join them. I agreed!

Still, holidays are hard for me.

Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, New Years… sometimes Halloween.1 It’s hard to be away from my family. They were all together this past weekend and I longed to be there.

Granted, I know we don’t do anything substantial for most of those holidays any more. And it’s not like there are little kids in my family we could watch being socialized into such cultural celebrations. They used to be a lot bigger, a lot more of a “to do.”

Smaller family, older family means there isn’t as much fêteing.

I’m grateful – so grateful – that I’m invited to be a part of other people’s familial celebrations. Even in my memories, they weren’t that exciting (aside from when I was a little kid at my grandparents’ house).

A small part of me hopes that, when I do find a boyfriend/partner, he will have family get-togethers and I’d be incorporated into them. Of course, I’m open to seeing if the families that have “adopted” me for these other holidays would allow me to bring him. I would definitely want to bring him home for Christmas (after we had been dating a while; that would be an intense experience).

I think my sisters, or at least my younger sister, shares this same desire – to be a part of family celebrations that ours used to be like when we were younger. That is not at all to knock our current family celebrations.2 But when you grow up with large gatherings of family and friends and food and games… and then all of that gets cut off due to a schism and you have to start, in essence, from scratch… it is challenging. Perhaps it is nostalgia that makes us regard such gatherings with a sense of desire. Perhaps we are just impatient to have the sort of boisterous family gatherings that may come once we all have partners and there are children running around.

I know what you might be thinking: Mandy – why don’t you become party central? You could be the hostess for some of these celebrations! Yeahhhh… I’ll think about it. I’m not spending hundreds of dollars on fireworks, though. That I can tell you right now.

1. For Halloween, I mainly miss parties. Grad school and my time in Norman had a lot of excellent parties.

2. Mom, if you read this, there is nothing wrong with what we do. At all. I’d probably be writing the same thing even if the schism hadn’t of happened because I’m in Ohio and my family is in Texas. Don’t freak out.