Yesterday was the third of July, my very most favorite day of the year. I have been to every single 3rd of July Lakefront fireworks since I was one month old, save the two years I was in the Peace Corps and the one year I had front row seats to Bel Biv Devoe.
Last night, the fireworks could barely fight their way through the fog. We saw the first twenty minutes or so, but then that was it. Barely perceptible red and green flashes of light were backdrop for the sounds that let us know...those fireworks were great. If we could only see them. And twenty minutes in, when it was clear that...well that it wasn't clear (enough to see), thousands of people around us began packing and leaving. The bridge over Veteran's Park looked like a moving walkway. Around us people were standing and folding chairs and folding blankets.
"What are you doing?" I yelled. "It's not over!"
"Down in front!" My dad shouted comically.
And my family stayed and watched the fireworks that we could not see. And we laughed at the jokes my dad made about getting a better view in particular areas, as he walked around the blanketed area he and my mom had saved for us at 9 that morning. We watched my kids and my niece and nephew wave their overpriced glow sticks around, putting on their own "fireworks show" for us. We stayed on those blankets until we could hear and feel (though not see) the stupendous grand finale that you can feel in your very chest.
And I realized this: the 3rd of July, at least not for me, is not at all about the fireworks display. Sure, that's a lovely way to end the evening... But the 3rd of July for me is a holiday better than Christmas or even my birthday. It is my family and friends--some of the people I love best in the world--sitting together on blankets and chairs, eating a picnic dinner, playing games, just being together and waiting.
In the end, what we are waiting for doesn't really matter. It's what happens while we wait.