Our Fourth of July

Fourth of July to me, has historically (boy that makes me sound old!) meant getting together with large groups of people, being surrounded by live patriotic music, American picnic foods…and counting down the hours till the fireworks begin!

Four years ago, however, we started our own tradition here at home. I confess to dragging my feet initially, but I’ve learned to make the best of it, and even, gasp, to enjoy myself!

You see, my husband is happiest at home surrounded by *us*. Isn’t that a novel, small scale way to spend a holiday? (Grins) So he sideswiped my notions of the “perfect 4th”–keep reading to see how tradition spells July 4th at our house these days…

It begins with a cook-out. Hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, chips & dip, roasted marshmallows, lemon meringue pie, sugar cookies, and Tampico punch. After eating way too much and feeding the scraps to the chickens and dogs, we progress to fireworks. Finally it’s dark enough to pass out the sparklers. Back to the house to refrigerate all the leftovers, and then the whole family hops on the four-wheeler and zooms to the top of the hill behind our home, where the tent awaits…where the view encompasses several firework shows in neighboring communities…where the stars hang in static brightness begging equal attention. Daddy sets off Roman candles and flower fire gardens, etc and around midnight we troop into the tent, pleasantly satiated on each other’s company. A fitting cap to a festive and memorable evening.

Once in the tent, snugged into our sleeping bags, we all take turns praying aloud, sleepily. Afterwards I mention with regret that the only thing missing in our fun evening was patriotic music. Soon the tent fills with the harmonizing of my two older girls, singing the Star Spangled Banner.

5:30 A.M. arrives, thunder and lightening awakens us adults. Hubby and I drag ourselves off the hard ground and begin rolling up sleeping bags, sure a rainstorm is imminent. And of course we don’t want to be on the highest hill around during t-storms! I run the four-wheeler full of girls down to the house and get them settled before returning to the campsite with 10 yo to help take the tent down. By this time, the occasional lightening barely rivals the early morning sky. I wish we could sit in our camp chairs and watch the sun come up, but the wind is trying to blow our tent away!

Beating the as yet non-existent rain back to the house…I sigh at the tummy rumbles sounding from me and mine. Chilly fresh-air, adrenaline rush morning being the culprit, no doubt. Thirty minutes later we file by the kitchen table, helping ourselves to sausage, scrambled eggs and French toast.

It never rained. Mad dash aside, it was nice to laze the morning away with my oldest daughter, our good reads, and two cups of Earl Gray with cookies.

The Star-Spangled Banner tradition

Now I have a question for you. Our pastor surprised me this morning in church, by bringing to everyone’s attention that anytime the National Anthem is being sung or played, the appropriate custom is for all in attendance to place their right hand over their heart or if wearing hats, to remove them to hold at their left shoulder. I knew this already, having been raised in a highly patriotic home. What surprised me was our pastor’s intimating that he’d not known of it until a military person brought it to his attention. Which explains a lot. I’d thought this courtesy was common knowledge, and confess to thinking badly of people who didn’t show this respect at rodeos and other sporting events I’d attended. Perhaps it’s becoming a forgotten tradition, which saddens me. It’s up to us to teach our children these small offerings of respect and honor to those who have fought, sacrificed and died to keep our country free.

Will you please participate in my fourth of July poll to the right in the sidebar? I’d love to read any further thoughts in the comments as well.