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Happy Fourth

When did everything change to be so individualized and about money?

I thought about this as I took my bike ride tonight. I get very nostalgic around the Fourth of July, because when I was a kid, I often spent the Fourth and a few weeks on either end of it with my now-deceased grandparents in their house outside Pittsburgh. One of my most vivid memories was the year we had a cookout of hamburgers and hot dogs and then walked down to a park - that seemed very, very far away - to watch the fireworks with other local people. Then we trudged back home, scratching our mosquito bites in the humid, but cool, night air.

Tonight on my bike, I noticed how many people were setting off fireworks in their own yards. It's not a communal activity anymore. And in my current state of Pennsylvania, we can buy them now and shoot them off in our  own yards. A communal activity is now individualized. For money that someone is making.

I remember when movies were talked about for how good a story they told, rather than how much money they made at the box  office.  It was truly about the experience rather than the bucks. Sometimes I think back to the subjects I learned in high school and college that have stuck  with me. They are not very valued  now, perhaps because they  aren't easily monetized. Hatshepsut fascinated me in the ninth grade. Maybe I am just not resilient or entrepreneurial enough, but I have yet to  find a way to make a buck off of her and my interest in her pharaonic reign. But I'm happy with that. Too bad so much has changed  even in college that nearly everything is evaluated by how one can turn  it into cash.

I'm glad I grew up when we all collectively listened to the car radio. There were no individual airbuds to plug into our ears. Instead  we collectively turned up the volume on Boston, Zepplin, and American Top 40. I liked it when the collective buzz was all about Star Wars, not because of the money it made, but because the story just blew our minds. I liked that we all collectively went to the movies and watched it, and did not individually queue it up on our own Netflix accounts.

Forgive me if I'm a bit melancholic and nostalgic tonight; since my grandmother and last remained grandparent died two years ago, I find myself unusually wistful on this holiday. I realize the Fourth of July is not usually a holiday in which one battles emotions. But I do.

I wish everyone a Happy Fourth, and I hope you're enjoying and celebrating with  lots of people - in a community of friends and family.

2 thoughts on “Happy Fourth

  1. AvatarJodie

    Love this and you are spot on! No need to apologize about feeling nostalgic. I
    Agree completely with your comments. While I know there a places where it still exists, sense of community is not what it used to be. Sounds like you had some wonderful 4th of July celebrations with your grandparents. Cherish those memories.

    Reply
    1. Gretchen McKayGretchen McKay

      Thanks for the comment. I'm glad it resonated. And yes - I had great grandparents, only appreciated all they did when I was older, but I was able to tell them both of that appreciation before they passed away.

      Reply

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