On the appointed dates, people of every description gleefully step off their respective daily turf, climb up on to the holiday carousel and together enjoy the ride, the carny music and the lights and festive colors. These shared occasions and observances have profound benefits which are, in reality, a good deal more significant than the mere cessation of work and the consequent liberty for elective activity.
In these national celebrations, all Americans participate, regardless of divergent ethnos, culture and economic strata, and welcome such addenda to their respective observances and folkways. What make for our country’s unity are social glues of many kinds, among which is our uniform recognition and joint participation in mutually recognized holidays.
There are traditional observances performed in common by our diverse population, including for example, greeting cards, holiday symbols and paraphernalia, traditional greetings, even a shared annoyance regarding holiday traffic; we are festive and annoyed, together. The universal recognition of these special dates is often celebrated at parties and overtly and enthusiastically displayed by banners, costumes, lanterns, trees and ornaments; on Independence Day, we may display red, white and blue decorations
In addition to such salutary and positive display of shared sentiment and solidarity, it might just be possible to suggest a somewhat novel order of observance which would be aimed at increasing one’s own personal perspective, identity and self- knowledge.
Over the course of our individual lives, we experience significant events, which to each of us are particularly memorable, some even perceived as milestones. These might include painful recollection of loss or change of circumstance, as well as events appropriate to joyous celebratory activity.
Thus, while our sharing of public events in common is immensely valuable, the life of the individual has its own nuanced and memorable events which are filed away in the psyche and not publically shared. We all maintain personal libraries of memory which, if consulted, might offer useful perspective, personal understanding and acceptance. The alternative to this sort of constructive introspection may be a life which seems to us to have no separate identity, is amorphous and even, meaningless.
In addition to birthdays, wedding anniversaries, memorial dates and the like (which we do celebrate) we all have perceived milestones, favorable or otherwise, as well as numerous events worthy of note in our own life experience; our first school day, our first real kiss, the first day we drove a car, our first home, our favorite pet, our first publication, our first trip abroad, the first book read, the big fish caught. These, are examples of uniquely memorable experiences, worthy of celebration which offer us a sense of personal identity and of an authentic life lived. We need to ride a personal carousel of recollected salient events.