A Year of Gifts
The United States of America—Home of the Free— Because of the Brave
The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. For me, the holiday has always meant summer fun, good food, and celebrating our nation’s birthday with friends and family. But as I sit down to share my thoughts with you this morning, I am reminded that this US holiday stands for so much more than an excuse for a long weekend.
We are able to celebrate this American holiday because of the many brave men and women that gave so much to win and maintain our freedom. I am able to call myself a United States citizen because I was lucky. Lucky to be born in America long after my ancestors chose to journey here and build their lives in this land of opportunity. Recent events remind me there are so many others out there in this world that would love to call America their home and are willing to risk so much in pursuit of these many freedoms so many of us take for granted.
So, if you are also lucky enough to live in America, how will you celebrate?
For me, the weeks leading up to the beginning of July have always felt like early summer—a time when we still have months of warm, sunny weather ahead. But once we hit July 4th, the remaining days of summer seem to fly by too fast and, the next thing you know, the kids are back in school and the leaves are turning. So I’ll be sure to find time to celebrate this week!
When I was growing up, the 4th always meant a night or two at the Stutsman County Fair since it was usually in town around Independence Day. Bright flashing lights, the roar of stock cars, the taste of warm mini-doughnuts straight out of the grease, and the whirl and clank of carnival rides were an assault on the senses. Despite how corny and even a bit seedy these little fairs might appear, I chose to think the carnival is a little bit of magic, springing up in the middle of what is usually an empty field, here today and gone tomorrow.
When our kids were smaller, we spent summer weekends at our camper, parked next to good friends at Spiritwood Lake. While all of our weekends were fun, the 4th was always special. There were water balloon fights and a slip-and-slide, not to mention extremely competitive bean bag tournaments. We’d take a break to watch the boat parade out on the water. I’m not sure whether the food or the fireworks would have been considered the highlight of the day.
Lots of “favorites” were served in our potluck style 4th picnics. Everything from traditional hot dogs and hamburgers to deep fried turkeys to fresh caught fish would serve as the center of the meal. There was always a huge pan of sliced potatoes, grilled with plenty of onion and butter. Add to all of this the many different salads, desserts and other treats and you had enough food to serve an army. Or, in our case, lots of hungry kids.
Fireworks are legal here and they were never in short supply. Sparklers, bottle rockets and smoke bombs kept the kids entertained until sundown. Once the sun finally set on our fun-filled day, those of us not adventuresome enough to be part of the lighting crew got situated in lawn chairs along with bug spray and beverages. One year, the kids built a makeshift blanket tent and observed the festivities from “inside”.
Not everyone loved the fireworks. The noise and flashes of light drove the dogs nuts. There’s an element of danger whenever you have a bunch of novices lighting off objects laced with gunpowder, meant to fly at breakneck speeds and explode. Guess how fast kids can scatter when an errant rocket shoots straight into a blanket tent? Thankfully there were no injuries but I do think there were nearly a few heart attacks over that one.
It’s been quite a few years since our families outgrew our campers but we’ll hold on to those memories forever.
This week we’ll again celebrate with family and friends at the lake. We’ll serve many of the same favorites and I’m hoping my daughter will make her peanut butter pie. People will come and go, since the 4th is on a Wednesday this year, but we will make the most of it. If the weather is nice, the lake will be busy with boaters, fishermen and jet skis.
There’s nothing like celebrating the 4th of July at the lake, or while on a summer vacation or maybe even at a family or school reunion. Be sure to get out of your house and enjoy yourself this week. Put on that patriotic t-shirt you only wear once a year, rock your swim-suit or put on shorts and head to a baseball game. Whatever it is you love to do to celebrate the 4th, I hope you have a wonderful time!
And please, in addition to celebrating, never forget:
Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. Eleanor Roosevelt
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!