As a kid, I grew up overseas — Japan, Korea, Germany — but every summer, my family and I spent a couple of months in the Midwest, using my grandparents’ home in St. Louis as home base. It was a time of the year I looked forward to for months — a time when I could catch up on American TV, eat Grandma’s cooking, take swimming lessons, go the mall, read books all night long and sleep in til noon. I loved it. I loved every minute of it (well, maybe not so much sharing a bedroom with my 6-years-younger sister who complained about me keeping a reading light on so late into the night).
One of my favorite days of the summer was the Fourth of July, when the whole extended family got together for a BBQ to celebrate the holiday as well as my aunt’s and cousin’s shared birthday, respectively. After stuffing our faces on burgers and brats and corn and cake, we’d trek down to the civic center, or maybe even my uncle’s boat on the Mississippi River and watch the fireworks. It was a point in the summer when I’d settled into a routine, when the freckles had boldly scattered across my face and my shoulders seemed permanently pink by the sun. But it was also early enough in the season that the weeks ahead still seemed long and lazy and the anxiety of returning back to school and my life — wherever it happened to be that year — hadn’t begun to set in.
As an adult, the Fourth of July still holds that same special summertime magic it did when I was a kid — and with the added benefit of beer, of course, which can’t be overstated. Alas, I still don’t have definitive plans for this Fourth of July weekend, but as long as there’s the smell of BBQ in the air and the sound of amateur fireworks around the ‘hood, I’m good. If I can spend a few uninterrupted hours lounging on a blanket under the summer sky somewhere, indulging in some watermelon and maybe a lemon bar or two, even better.
Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful holiday weekend. How will you be spending it this year? What are some of your favorite Fourth of July memories? Do you and your family and/or significant other have any Fourth of July traditions? Oh, and do you have any holiday-appropriate recipes you’re willing to share? Happy Fourth, everyone!