Let’s Talk with Maggie Toussaint

Celebrating our Independence
By Maggie Toussaint

Americans celebrate July 4 as Independence Day. In my youth, we had to travel thirty miles to see fireworks. At first, the loud noise of the sparkling pretties startled me, but it didn’t take long to ignore the boom and wait impatiently for the delightful burst of fizzling, sizzling sparklers in the sky.

I’m one of those who oohs and aahs with each colorful surprise. I can’t help myself, even all these years later. Fireworks have come a long way from the red, green, blue, or gold flower-bouquet shapes I first saw. No matter how they look or how they traverse the sky, I always eagerly await the next one.

My take on the implied message of those first independence fireworks follows:
“We won!”
“We survived, though its bittersweet because many didn’t make it.”
“Our tomorrow will be brighter.”
“We can now control more aspects of our lives.”

After reading that, is anyone thinking of the parallel with the recent COVID-19 pandemic? That was a battle of the highest order. Our survival cost us our personal freedoms, it changed employment and how we shopped, and it isolated our loved ones. Our mantra in 2020 was “if we only had a vaccine!”

Scientists created vaccines, and today three are available. Now there’s talk of a virus variant and it’s a déjà vu topic that most of us want to go away.

Here’s what I learned from the pandemic:
Tell friends and family you love them.
Do your best.
Read more.
Stay safe.
Celebrate the gift of each new day.

So that’s what I’m going to do! I’m celebrating the gift of each new day by giving away a copy of my latest culinary cozy mystery, SHRIMPLY DEAD (print book to US only) in print or digital format. The winner will be announced on July 8. To enter, comment about who you spend your holiday with (July 4 or another one of your choosing).

While you’re here, enter our new contest. Entries accepted from July 1-18, 2021. All print book recipients must have US mailing address. Prizes must be claimed within a week. ENTER

Also, our Booklover’s Bench authors are participating in the Summer Book Blast on Thursday, July 8, from 8 to 9:30 EDT on the Facebook page “New Release Party.” Save the Date and Join us for giveaways and fun.

Comments

  1. Congratulations to Heather Harrison, who won a copy of Shrimply Dead. Heather, please contact me at your earliest convenience. I sent you an email just now. You have a week to claim your gift. Thanks to everyone who commented on the post–I am celebrating all of you!!!

  2. We didn’t do anything special this year for the 4th. We did visit with our niece and nephew the day before, though, and that was a treat since we hadn’t seen them since before the pandemic.

  3. Shannon Murphy says

    We were lucky enough to spend the 4th of July weekend at my parents’ house. My husband, our kids and I stayed with them and my brother and his kids (who live near my parents) also came over. We cooked out and played games, then ended the evening with sparklers. It was a great time!

    • Oh, Shannon, that sounds like so much fun. I haven’t held a sparkler in quite some time, but I remember the sense of wonder they brought. I used to pretend that I was a firefly with mine!

  4. Heather Harrisson says

    I spent a nice 4th with my husband. Our daughter is in TN visiting her grandmother and grandfather for the summer so our house is pretty quiet.

    • Sometimes we all need peace and quiet, especially if its a change from the fast pace we ordinarily keep. I think its great that your daughter has this time with her grandparents–that helps bridge the generation gap quicker than anything. Thanks for stopping by, Heather!

  5. Last year’s 4th of July was a dud, so it was great to spend this year’s holiday with friends: parade, pool party, fireworks. And lots of food and drink!

  6. Kim Heniadis says

    Holidays are spend with my husband and the bigger ones, like Christmas are spent with my Dad one day and my Step-Dad another. 🙂
    For this Fourth of July we helped a friend out by doing a test run of the Escape Room she made as a fundraiser for a school and then we came back home and watched the fireworks from the window of our house.

    • It is wonderful to be with family on holidays (and other times!). You are lucky to still have parents. Mine and my husband’s are gone now, but we still treasure their memories. What fun to work on the Escape Room for your friend. I have tried to do those things twice and it turns out I am not so good under time pressure. I love puzzles so this was a big disappointment to me. I’m glad you could help your friend out-I’m sure that will be a big hit as a fundraiser!

  7. Sparklers and fireworks with grand kids 💜 thank you for the chance happy 4th of July!

  8. Candy Kennedy says

    Had a nice picnic with our daughter. She made potato salad abd deviled eggs and we grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. I like my dogs Southern style with Cole slaw.Anyone else.?

    • I love Cole slaw on just about everything! I love those holiday fav foods you mentioned. It’s nice that you’re close to your daughter. That’s such a blessing! Good luck in the drawing!

  9. Brenda Ellis says

    I’m usually with my dog, whatever the holiday. It’s fine because I hate large crowds and avoid most of them. If it’s a big family thing, I have a handful of cousins that I surround myself with. They know how I feel about crowds.

    • I am an introvert like you, Brenda. I can relax one on one with a person, or even be comfortable in a small gathering of friends and family. More than that and I start looking for the door! I’m glad you have your dog and his unconditional love. Good luck in the drawing!

  10. I agree the pandemic changed our lives. Wish more people would celebrate independence day by getting vaccinated–an act of love and generosity for others among individuals who think COVID won’t harm them.

  11. I used to spend the 4th with my sister. We’d watch fireworks from a field near her house. Now that she’s gone, we don’t normally do much. We are able – or in the past we were able – to walk down the street to see a multi municipal display. This year, we’re going to a parade with our new grandson!

    • Parades are so much fun! I love looking at the excitement on the faces of young and old and that anticipation of waiting to see what comes next! Enjoy that brand new baby!!!

  12. This Fourth will be quiet. We’ll be inside with the dog, watching it rain outside, reading and cooking and just relaxing. We didn’t struggle because of the pandemic but my heart went out to all those who were trying to make a living and take care of family. It was–and still is–a hard time. I count my blessings for a good life.

    • It is a cause for celebration to survive the pandemic, and it’s okay if we each define how we celebrate. My community is having two fireworks displays tonight (Saturday) but rain is in the forecast. Our community is seeing rising prices for so many items due to companies being short-staffed (especially lumber prices!). The “hard times” part of the post-pandemic will eventually tail off so it seems that its wise to keep on keeping on for now. Thanks for visiting, Susan!

  13. Turns out I made many new friends during the pandemic. That’s because more people were outside walking by themselves or with their dogs. Lots new dogs appeared, since people had more time to train and enjoy them. We couldn’t get close to each other, but still could talk louder and enjoy seeing each other outside without a mask.

    • I love this aspect of the pandemic. In some ways, it was like our childhood days back when TV was in its infancy, when people spent time outdoors, when they took pride in their yards, even when people sat on their porches. I know your doggie Buster made the most of all those adventures, Morgan!

  14. I’ll be celebrating July 4 with my Mom and Dad and Cat. Since Mom Dad and I had Covid, I’m a full time caregiver now so I bake a lot more now.
    I love your books . Would love to read and review your books in print format.
    Hope I Win

    • How nice to be surrounded by loved ones, Crystal! Sorry that you all had Covid, but I’m glad you survived it. Thanks for your kind words about my books. Good luck in the drawing!

  15. Cherie J says

    I will be cooking and baking up a storm to celebrate the weekend with my family members. My brother will be renting some movies to watch and will be bringing those with him so we can watch those in between eating. There are always fireworks in the area too.

    • Hi Cherie! I hope you have your preparations mostly in place by now and that family members are already surrounding you with love and cheerfulness. I love the idea of a movie fest with family. Will remember that when I have my next household guests! Happy Fourth to you!

  16. Brenda Ellis says

    I’ll be hanging out with my dog and trying to keep her calm through the fireworks. My neighbors start celebrating the week before the holiday so that’s a lot of calming to be done.

    • Hi Brenda! I certainly understand about the multiple nights of celebration and the effects on dogs. I can’t imagine having super hearing like a dog does and having to endure something that sounds loud to us. Hope you’re able to enjoy the holiday, despite the booms and doggie panic.

  17. Ah, Maggie, you hit the nail with lessons learned from Covid. Many hugs, vb

    • Thanks, Vicki. So glad to have survived the pandemic with my health and creativity. With all the fear of contagion constantly in the news and in our faces as we went to routine appointments, the pandemic was a sober time. I’m hoping to edit the mush out of a book written while in pandemic mode. Thanks for visiting Booklover’s Bench!

  18. I’ll be hanging out with my mom, my cat, and my sister’s 2 cats that we’re cat-sitting for a few days. One of my neighbors usually gets some really good fireworks and puts on an awesome show so I can watch from the air conditioned comfort of home.

    • Sounds like you have the best of all worlds, Alicia! Fireworks at home, guest cats, and no need to travel to see different sides of your family! Happy Fourth to you!

  19. We stopped going to fireworks after our kids grew up and left home. It was no longer fun to sit outside with the mosquitos, wait until it grew dark, and then wince with each boom overhead. The only fireworks I enjoy now are at Disney World, but we rarely stay there late enough to see them. The day is more about a good meal with family members. I try to shut my ears at 9pm when the neighbors engage their firecrackers.

    • I completely understand, Nancy. I’m not one for twilight mosquitoes either. There’s also traffic snarls to consider in metropolitan areas. Luckily, our small town (pop 1800 or so) has a fireworks display as does one of our barrier islands. Allen Bailey, a football star who grew up on Sapelo Island, provides fireworks on the west side of Sapelo, shooting them off from Nanny Goat Beach. If I crane my neck just right I might can see them from home!

  20. Although I enjoy fireworks, I prefer seeing them from an airconditioned room (as opposed to on TV or sweltering in the heat)….. but I agree, they instill an excitement of a fresh start…and in this time, we’ve learned to treasure each other and the moments we share.

    • I love that feeling of a fresh start. Now I just have to get brain and body on board with the concept! As much as I’ve hated the extra computer time of virtual meetings, I am glad we have such a thing so that writers and readers could stay in touch. I treasure all my friends, family, and readers!

  21. dianestuckart says

    I love fireworks but we have four dogs who get scared so it’s tough to leave them alone to go watch a show. Especially as I live out in the boonies and we pretty much get our own show in the neighborhood. At some point in the night I give the pups snack, turn up the TV, and go outside in the yard to watch what’s happening.

    • It is instinctive to be frightened of loud noises. Small children are often afraid for the same reason. I thought the loud noise of the fireworks rocket was due to the propellent, but I believe the manufacturer purposefully makes them have booms and other sounds. The noise certainly is an attention getter, that’s for sure! I like the smaller displays and the chance to walk to see them instead of driving in heavy traffic.

  22. Kay Garrett says

    Today, July 1st, is our anniversary. From the time we got married, I’ve thought of the 4th celebrations (good food – especially homemade ice cream, good friends – hubby is my best of best friends, fireworks – whether in the sky or in my heart) are extended celebrations of our wedding day. To be standing beside the man I love with all my heart during it all makes me the happiest woman on earth I do believe. So grab a spoon and dig into a bowl of some homemade strawberry ice cream, hug your loved one, shoot off that firework and celebrate all that is great in this wonderful country of ours – freedom to love and to be loved, abundance of good food, it’s safe to be with loved ones, Covid vaccinations – and while you’re at it celebrate along with us on another happy year together as we reflect back on the good times and dream of the future times.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  23. cherylhollon says

    This is a new beginning for us. We live downtown and can see the fireworks from our building. I’ve invited the family over to snack and watch the show at the edge of Mirror Lake. I’m hoping this becomes a new tradition.

    • How lovely that your family is close enough to enjoy the celebration with you. It’s important to keep old traditions but also to make new ones. Kinda reminds me of the song Girl Scouts sing: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” (Apologies if anyone gets that song stuck in their head. It has that earworm kind of vibe where you just can’t stop singing or humming it!)

  24. Sarah Woodhouse says

    It depends on what’s going on. A lot of times, it’s just myself and the hubby. Other times it’s with the family. Not sure about this year as my brother and his wife are coming up after the 4th.

  25. Phyllis McGuire says

    I spend most holidays alone unless I am working.

    • Hi Phyllis, For most introverts, alone is good. I prefer to spend a lot of my time alone. To me there’s a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. If you’re ever feeling lonely, you might consider connecting with others who share your interests and hobbies, in person or online.