We Americans sometimes tend to take our freedom for granted. In the grand scheme of things, we are very fortunate to live in this country and enjoy the liberty that affords. We have done nothing to deserve this gift. Most of us were simply born into it. How grateful we should be for the privilege of living here and the ability to speak our minds and pursue our dreams.
When we were kids, my sisters, brother, and I usually celebrated the 4th of July in grand style. The elementary school we attended offered summer activities and we loved participating in whatever was scheduled. I think Mom liked it too, since that kept us busy and outside. Celebrating July 4th was the most excitement we ever had during the summer. The school held a bicycle decorating contest and a lantern parade for the July 4th holiday and we often participated in both. One year my sister and I dressed in matching red, white, and blue outfits and decorated our bicycles with red, white, and blue crepe paper and streamers, and if memory serves, I think we won some ribbons for our efforts.
Our family often cooked outside on the 4th of July and the highlight of our meal was always the homemade ice cream and cherry or raspberry pie that followed it. We kids would have taken turns at the old fashioned crank freezer and Dad would have to finish it as it became harder and harder to turn. The first taste of that vanilla delight was so good, but it always gave us what we called "brain freeze". I guess that was just part of the fun. Mom always saved the wooden paddle for Dad to enjoy. He'd lick off the ice cream remnants as we watched and giggled.
The lantern parade was another highlight of the summer. With supervision, we each cut two "windows" from the sides of a large packing box and glued a thin square of light colored crepe paper to the inside of each window. We also glued a jar lid (with a serrated bottom) to the bottom of the inside of the box, and secured a candle inside the lid. We sure wouldn't be able to do that sort of thing today. Back then, we were oblivious to the fire hazard that presented. We painted the outsides of our cardboard lanterns and decorated them in any way we wished. Most designs included stars and flags. Unwound wire coat hangers served as the handles and once all lanterns were completed, we'd line up and march around the school yard in the dark. I'm sure we had parents in attendance and there were no mishaps that I can recall. I loved the sight of all those candle-lit lanterns "floating" through the air as we walked with them.
July 4th celebrations would not have been complete without fireworks at the end of the day. We were fortunate to have a great view of them from our own front yard. We'd gather under the huge oak tree that gave shade on those hot summer days and invite the neighbor kids to come and watch from our vantage point. From the slight rise on our front lawn we could enjoy the most colorful displays. I don't think I've ever been so in awe of fireworks as I was back then. It was the perfect ending to a fun-filled day.
Today I am grateful for my life, my family, and my friends. I'm thankful I was born in a country where I can live and worship as I please. No matter what is going on in this world and regardless of whether I agree with all the elected leaders or not, I still think this is the greatest country in the world in which to live and raise a family. I wish all of you a blessed Independence Day.
The antique quilt star pocket was created by artist, "primitiveme".