Is the fourth of July just another paid holiday for you or does it have significance? Perhaps your ancestors took their patriotic oath on this day or maybe you can trace your lineage back to the Revolutionary War. Do you remember all of the excitement back in 1976 when our country celebrated its bicentennial? Or is it a vacation that your family took when you were a child that brings up images of what a happy fourth should be?

I grew up in a factory town where the entire plants would close down for the week of the fourth – sometimes even two weeks. It was the most crowded and expensive time to visit beaches and mountain destinations. So my family always elected to stay at home during the fourth of July, and made vacation plans for any other week. But we took advantage of the summer holiday by cooking out and watching the fireworks.

As an adult, I’ve never felt compelled to partake of the week of the fourth by traveling, although for the past three years my husband and I have gone to our cabin in Virginia. At its elevation and with its long range views, we are able to see fireworks from two different towns. I didn’t realize that it had come to signify the July 4th holiday until this year. Having to work Saturday and Tuesday have made it unfeasible to get away.

But we have found some ways to make it special.

First, we attended the neighbor’s party that I wrote about yesterday. Then we cooked out yesterday and invited over some friends – sprang my watermelon margaritas on them which was a hit! Today, I think I’ll pick blackberries, catch up on my writing and the laundry, in that order.

But for some families I know this holiday will find them with absences as a loved one may be serving in a branch of the military. Far away from home, I wonder what these men and women will do to commemorate this day. What memories of the previous Independence Day holidays will they be reliving? Will it be parades, picnics, taking a canoe down a river, fishing, hiking, or lazy beach days that rise to the forefronts of their minds?
As you go about your holiday plans today I urge you to reminisce about all of the ways – or singular way – in which you have celebrated our country’s birthday. Try to remember your favorite childhood, young adult and adult fourth of July. Where were you – what did you do – what made it special? Was it the food, the music, the scenery, the people you were with, the fireworks display, the sack race, or the ability to do nothing? Then ask yourself how you can bring this into future Independence Day celebrations.

Maybe you are from a family who farms, and holiday celebrations in the middle of the summer – i.e. making hay and tending crops – just weren’t and aren’t feasible. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a few ways to work holiday revelry into the schedule. Start something new that will resonate with your children or grandchildren in the years to come. Maybe it will be making silly hats out of construction paper – fixing red, white and blue smoothies out of yogurt and fresh strawberries and blue berries – or giving a prize to the one who finds the largest blackberry. Perhaps it will be an evening swim with a barbecue following or late picnic with a small fire to make smores over. Whatever you do, try to make it unique – something you don’t normally do during the course of the day. And if you enjoy it, do it again next year. You’ll be building memories for your family to think back on as favorite fourth of July moments.

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