When I was a kid, my sisters and I spent summers in the country with our grandparents. For us, the school-free season meant long days in the pool followed by an evening of roasting marshmallows by a bonfire. Throw in an afternoon of blueberry picking and a couple of trips to the ice cream shack and our summers were pretty much complete.
There was one day, however, that always stood out; a day when everything was special and nothing was routine, a day when the air was so filled with excitement, you could almost feel it on your fingertips during those first waking stretches.
I didn't realize it then, of course, but looking back I can see that our Fourth of July holidays were about as iconic as it gets; from the red, white and blue, crepe paper sashes we wore over our homemade dresses for the country town parade -- where we rode in a trailer pulled by a farm tractor -- to the fresh-squeezed lemonade we sipped as we watched the fireworks at night. These memories are like so many images I see now in magazines. The only difference is we didn't work so hard to make it look so easy.
With my own kids now, I try to replicate those country summer celebrations. Homemade decorations are among the 4th of July kids' activities I'm sharing with my girls this summer, along with a few Independence Day desserts that are simple enough for them to have a hand in preparing.
Maybe they won't have homemade dresses with crepe paper sashes, but we've already put some crepe paper to good use on these tin can wind chimes.
And we won't have a big, community bonfire, but we will roast the marshmallows for our 4th of July smores in our little fire bowl.
Beside, who needs a bonfire when our yard will be beautifully lit with these patriotic luminaries?
And maybe we'll have some extra glow from the glitter we add to the flour when we make our lawn stars.
Dad will provide a safe, small-scale fireworks show in our yard at night, but the girls will have a head start with their hanging fireworks decorations.
One thing I will do the same is make fresh-squeezed lemonade. And then I may use it as the "white" in this patriotic punch.
Of course, like me, the kids probably won't realize how truly wonderful these simple celebrations are until they are much older, but I'm fine with that. I like the idea of making these little deposits in their memory banks. And if they treasure their mementos half as much as I do mine, it's one of the best investments I could make.
Images courtesy of Christine Gauvreau