Every year we host a 4th of July celebration for our friends, family and neighbors. Year after year our gathering gets bigger and bigger which means more food (fine by me), more prep work (meh) and more memories (the best part).
We live in a cozy little farmhouse that’s been in The Farmer’s family forever and it just isn’t big enough to accommodate everyone as an indoor alternative if Mother Nature happens to join us with some rain and lightning which is precisely what happened this year.
After checking the weather forecast for the day, going back and forth on where we should have people gather and checking the forecast yet again, we finally settled on The Shop. What a great practice of going with the flow!
Transitioning our plans from our home to The Shop meant more prep work. The Farmer puts that space to good use to you can image the dirt, tools, tractor parts, four-wheeler parts and grease stains that accumulate. Not the most pleasant and welcoming space to invite people to…so we got to work.
I focused on the kitchen, bathroom and office spaces and The Farmer started on the shop part of The Shop. He made the mess so he can clean it up. #amiright
Our hog roast was happening in the pasture behind our house so when it was cooked to it’s smokey perfection, it was (carefully) transported to The Shop on the back of a pickup. Once it arrived everyone filled their places with smoked pork and all the other delicious potluck dishes. Don’t you just love a good potluck. They’re one of my favorite things.
After chowing down, everyone enjoyed some yard games (played on concrete, not a yard) and the live music by Prodigal Son. Oh, and George Strait made an appearance too. #nobigdeal
Afterwards, The Farmer and his friends lit off some fireworks in between rain showers. Even in the midst of rain and lightning, the show must go on.
Well, most of the show went on. They only got through about half of their fireworks so the rest are being saved for next year.
Mother Nature’s not-so-4th-of-July type of weather gave us the opportunity to make our celebration a two-day event. Our epic slip-n-slide wouldn’t have been the most enjoyable thing when the high for the day only got into the 70s and thunderstorms were looming. Plus, the steep little hill in front of our house is the ideal spot for it. The Farmer even did extra dirt work to prep for it. It’s normal to tear up your perfectly good lawn for the sake of improved slip-n-slide action, right?
Rather than setting up the slip-n-slide in less than ideal weather on less than ideal ground at The Shop, we decided to make the slip-n-slide Phase 2 of our gathering on the following day at our house when it was warm and sunny.
Our gathering keeps growing but it’s not necessarily about getting in on the hog roast or the fireworks show or the gigantic slip-n-slide. Those things have appeal and are wonderful but you know what trumps all of those things?
People want to be together. People want a place to go where they feel welcomed. A place where they can enjoy themselves and put their daily responsibilities and worries on hold. A place where they can connect with others who they may not get a chance to visit with often.
If I can be a part of providing that kind of place for people, count me in.
But here’s the thing. You don’t have to host a grand, firework-filled extravaganza in order to make people feel welcomed and valued.
We get a chance to create togetherness each and every day.
When we’re engaging in conversation with family sitting across from us at the dinner table.
When we interact with customers at work by offering helpful solutions or information.
When we meet someone on the highway by giving a steering wheel wave. (You Midwestern-ers know what I mean.)
When we reach out with a thoughtfully unexpected “thinking of you” card.
When we go beyond telling someone “thank you” and express deeper, authentic gratitude and affirmations.
When we take the extra time to help someone learn something new.
Every single day, we have numerous opportunities to help hurting people feel better. To help someone in need with something they need. To offer grace, kindness and worthiness to everyone we encounter.
Because life is quite a journey. And we’re all in this together.
How will you create togetherness today?