My sister and I sit next to each other on the stone wall: me furiously licking my melting ice cream cone in a circle as drops of sticky chocolate drip down my arm to my elbow; her carefully licking her vanilla cone so that it tops perfectly into a little peak. Stones from the wall are making their way up into my wet bathing suit and now damp shorts. I begin to fidget and squirm. "When is this dumb parade going to begin?" After what seems like an eternity to my eight-year-old mind, we see the first member of the parade. Mr. Morelli, the town barber, is about to make his way down the center of Main Street in his 1943 Chevy. It is July 4th in Schroon Lake, New York. For this one day Mr. Morelli is king, and I am his loyal subject Band-Aid on my knee and all.
July 4th and Canada Day, July 1st, are this week. Both holidays bring back special memories for me. I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, but my family spent our summers at a tiny beach town nestled in the Adirondacks. Some summers I was lucky enough to celebrate both holidays. Looking back, I realize that the celebrations were always quite similar, filled with cotton candy, hotdogs, ice cream, parades, songs and fireworks, and both days always seemed to fly by too quickly. While the individual historical events differ, at the core of each of these days are similar themes: history and pride.
The Fourth of July Celebration and Canada Day both commemorate important past events, key events for each country's journey to independence. When I talk about history though, I donï¿½t just mean the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, or the Queen of England's announcement of the Dominion of Canada, I'm also referring to personal history and heritage. To the values and culture that have been passed on through families over generations. Few North Americans are actually native to this area; many of our relatives traveled long distances to come to these lands of opportunity. They came in search of a better life for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren. They brought with them a rich culture, which informs whom each of us are today. It's part of our genetic makeup.
July 4th and Canada Day don't just need to be celebrations of your country's history, but can also be celebrations of your own familyï¿½s journey. This is a great time to talk to your children about their lineage, even if their own is not the same as yours. Understanding one's ancestry instills a sense of identity, and from identity comes pride and confidence.