Independence Day is one of the most important holidays we celebrate in the United States each year. It’s an essential time to come together, give thanks for our many freedoms and of course celebrate. In fact, July 4th is equally important for many of us because of the fantastic memories we create each year with our families when we gather to celebrate. It’s a holiday I loved as a child, and I continue to cherish it as an adult. As a Together CountsTM ambassador I wanted to share a few of my favorite July 4th memories from childhood and adulthood that capture the meaning of celebrating as a family.
In my family, special gatherings mean bringing out all of our favorite foods. Two summer foods that scream “Independence Day” to me are watermelon and corn on the cob. When I think of July 4th, I think of my dad slicing up a big, juicy watermelon and salting up a big slice for me. I can taste the sweet, cool fruit and feel the sun beating down on my head as the juices run down my chin. And what’s next to that watermelon on my plate? A bright yellow cob of juicy corn that can’t cool down fast enough! I can picture my six-year-old self picking it up and biting into it as melted butter runs between my fingers while my family members mill about, laughing and chatting. When I think about the Fourth and family, these are two sensory memories that rush to the forefront of my mind, and I love repeating them each year with my own family.
The Fireworks that Bind
What’s the 4th of July without fireworks? Well, when I was a kiddo, I could have done without them! I remember being terrified of the noise and being positive that the bright bursts of color were going to fall to earth next to me and set me on fire! Needless to say, I wasn’t a lot of fun at a fireworks show. But actually, my fear of fireworks facilitated one of my best Independence Day memories. One year my aunt and uncle took my two cousins and I to a fireworks display and we all cowered under the blanket together – three little girls united in their fear of pyrotechnics! We’ve always been inseparable, the cousins and I, but I like to think that if we weren’t already bonded by then, that evening of fearful fireworks sealed the deal. As adults we are still there for each other in all of life’s moments – scary, hilarious, happy, and sad.
Independence Day for my girl
Two years ago on July 4th my husband, our three kids and I were visiting my parents in Virginia for vacation and we attended a big Independence Day festival at the Virginia Military Institute. The heat and humidity were blistering; it was nearly 100 degrees. The adults groaned about the heat but committed ourselves to helping the kids have a great time, and boy did they ever! My daughter, who was four-and-a-half at the time, had been significantly developmentally delayed and was just finishing her first year of therapy. Normally she would have been fearful of the crowds, the noise, and the chaos. She would have refused to participate and perhaps even have thrown a huge tantrum. But on this Independence Day she showed us that she had come out of her shell, that she was on the other side of her delays, and that she was ready to love life. That girl had the best day navigating crowded bouncy houses, climbing up impossibly high inflatable slides (and breezing back down them with no trouble whatsoever), and blowing giant bubbles. She was just like all the other kids having a great time at the festival, and that day I truly believed she was independent of the delays that had held her back from these kinds of activities before. That made it the most special Independence Day for me yet.
I can’t wait to celebrate July 4th with my family again and make some new precious memories! What are some of your favorite things about the Fourth?
Jenny Rapson is a writer and social media project manager who lives in southwest Ohio with her husband of thirteen years and their three great kiddos. When she’s not cutting up grapes for her toddler or serving as referee for her school-agers, she co-authors the funniest parenting and lifestyle blog ever (written by first cousins, that is) over at Mommin’ It Up with her cousin Emily Berry.
For more family fun ideas for the 4th of July, check out these additional resources: