Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Weekend Open Thread: Happy Fourth of July!

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!

28 comments… add one
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    Painted_lady July 1, 2011, 5:26 pm

    4th of July was a HUGE holiday in my family – as big as Christmas or Thanksgiving, and everyone always tried to come in. My granddad’s birthday was the 2nd, so it was a good excuse for a party. My grandparents had a lakehouse and we’d either go out on the boat to watch fireworks or to the boat ramp where it was legal to light the smaller ones of our own (my favorites have always been the chickens). It was also the one day out of the year when my mom let me ride in the back of my grandfather’s truck, which for some reason was a huge deal to me. When I was 16 my grandparents sold the lakehouse, and it sort of felt like the end of my childhood because I started working that summer as well and wanted to stay in town to go to parties with my friends even though the new owners hadn’t closed on the house and it was ours one last year.

    My parents bought a house within view of a lake in March, along with a boat, and they invited me and my brother, now adults, along with several friends of the family, to come out tomorrow and spend the day on the lake and watch the fireworks that night. It feels like completing the circle somehow, and it’s nice.

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    MissDre July 1, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Today, July 1st is CANADA DAY! So, I’d like to wish all of the Canadian readers a wonderful holiday weekend! I live in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, so I’ll probably be heading down to Parliament Hill tonight to see the fireworks 🙂 I’m hoping they are extra fantastic this year, since the royal couple is in town visiting for the occasion!

    HAPPY CANADA DAY EVERYONE! And…

    HAPPY 4TH OF JULY! to all the Americans here 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well! Celebrate, enjoy the summer sun!

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      MissDre July 1, 2011, 5:39 pm

      Ps, my birthday was yesterday. So when I was really little, my family would always take me to the park to see the fireworks for Canada Day, but my brother would always tell me that the fireworks were for my birthday. And I used to get so excited and I always wondered how all the people there knew it was my birthday… hahaha. Being a little kid was so much fun 🙂

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        Painted_lady July 1, 2011, 6:10 pm

        Happy belated birthday AND happy Canada Day!

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        MissDre July 1, 2011, 6:49 pm

        Thank you 🙂 Xo!

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy July 1, 2011, 7:35 pm

      Yes, Happy Canada Day to the Canucks! Love you guys up north.

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        Painted_lady July 1, 2011, 8:52 pm

        Love your patriotic new attire, Wendy!

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    Quakergirl July 1, 2011, 5:43 pm

    This is actually Quakerboy and my first 4th of July in NYC, so it’s going to be a little strange. Normally we spend it in Missouri with family, funnily enough! Once or twice we’ve gone out to the river to see the bands/airshow/fireworks, but usually his parents have a HUGE gathering at their house in St. Charles county or at the family farm in Montgomery County. It’s always his whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), their neighbors, my parents, his sisters and their friends, and our friends. There can easily be like 50+ people there at any given point in the night.

    We have a huge cookout with burgers, hot dogs, beans, corn, veggies/salad and everyone brings dessert, too. There’s always about 15 kinds of pie and something called “frog eye salad,” which sounds disgusting, but is actually awesome. Well, I dunno, maybe it’s gross if you didn’t grow up eating it, but I can’t see how any of its components could be less than delicious. It’s tiny little pearl-shaped pasta, fruit cocktail, marshmallows and some sort of marshmallow fluff. I’d bet money it has a proper name, but I have no clue what it is. It’s a staple at all Quakerboy Family gatherings, especially Fourth of July.

    Then we set off fireworks for an hour or so once it gets dark, which I think is legal in St. Charles Co. (there’s like 3 cops in his town, so no one would even care anyway). Afterwards, we build a giant bonfire in the backyard and make smores and play guitars/sing. It’s always so much fun, so it’ll be weird not to be there this year. I think this year we’ll go over to Hudson River Park and watch the fireworks on the barge, but even I can’t justify making 15 kinds of pie for just the two of us.

    Out of curiosity, Wendy, where in STL is your family from, if you don’t mind my asking?

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy July 1, 2011, 7:25 pm

      Well, my mom grew up in North County — florissant, to be exact — and that’s where we always spent summers growing up. But now the whole extended family lives in St. Charles Co, along with all the other white people in that part of the state…

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        beans629 July 2, 2011, 10:27 am

        Awesome. Fellow St. Louisian here and currently NorthCo resident. Although in Bridgeton closer to the airport and only a hop,skip, and jump from St. Charles. 🙂

        Happy 4th.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy July 2, 2011, 11:05 am

        I know Bridegton. I have a good friend who grew up there. Pretty sure his childhood home was torn down a few years back for airport expansion (he was only a couple blocks from the airport).

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        Quakergirl July 2, 2011, 8:49 pm

        Haha, yes, St. Charles Co is very white place on the whole. Quakerboy’s family lives in New Melle, which is a tiny town where pretty much everyone is of direct German descent, and it definitely shows. My family lives in Olivette, but I used to be up near Florissant a lot when I played high school volleyball– my off-season team practiced and played there, and we would sometimes hang out nearby. Once we came across this awesome swing dance hall/concert venue that had great live music. Who knew.

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        beans629 July 2, 2011, 9:15 pm

        QG now I’m curious about your name. If your pretty much from west county not too many Quakers in that area. 🙂 I always assumed that when you said you were from MO you meant further out from STL.

        Now you are going to force me to ask you the inevitable STL question. What HS did you go to??

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        CG July 3, 2011, 12:36 am

        OMG I left the area years ago and somehow forgot people from StL always asked the high school question. Seriously, what’s up with that? 🙂

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy July 3, 2011, 7:53 am

        Oh, that question! I got asked that all the time in college — I went to (southwest) Missouri State and when I told people I was from St. Louis (only because I thought it was easier than explaining I grew up in Japan, Korea and Germany and getting asked the inevitable follow-up questions) people always asked where I went to high school. It was always very confusing when I replied that I didn’t actually go to high school there. Pretty soon I just started telling people where I really grew up, even if it took 15 minutes to explain how I ended up in the Ozarks.

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    LTC039 July 1, 2011, 6:00 pm

    Two summers ago, my boyfriend & I had split up just a week before 4th of July. I was depressed but trying to make the best out of the day because it is also my mom’s birthday. I was to spend the day with her & then at night I would go off to see fireworks with my aunts, uncles, & little cousins bc my mom was going to this piano bar for her bday (I was invited but me & the bf used to go there all the time so it was one of those ‘memories’ I couldn’t handle).
    We get to the park & i begin to drink some rum that my aunt had brought. I drink a little more, & a little more…As the fireworks begin I continue to drink some rum…Also,, my aunt did not bring anything to mix the rum with so I mixed it with my little cousin’s grape capri sun (don’t ever do that! its GROSS).
    By the time we were leaving the park I couldn’t walk, stand, or see straight from the tears in my eyes. They decided to go to a restaurant to eat. I fell out of the car & onto the pavement, all I heard was my little cousins ask “Is she dying???”. At the table, I could not sit up straight so they layed me in a booth next to the table, I then proceeded to throw up **purple** on the floor & also all over the sink in the bathroom.
    The night ended with me crawled into the fetal position in my aunt’s driveway, sobbing my eyes out, & my uncle having to carry me, like a child, inside, continued sobs until I finally passed out.
    Not one of my brightest moments, but def. a very memorable one!

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    Bethany July 1, 2011, 7:21 pm

    The last few years I’ve been going to Rochester, NY to spend the 4th of July with my extended family. Last year when I showed up I surprised them all with the news of my engagement, which happened a few days before the trip. This year we’re having a small, family only bridal shower for me! My favorite part of the weekend will just be spending time with my family, eating good food and relaxing!

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    honeybeenicki July 1, 2011, 8:32 pm

    I love 4th of July. Its second in my book only to Halloween (I’m a little obsessive about that particular holiday). I am fortunate enough to live only a few blocks from where the “Midwest’s Largest Fireworks Display” called Rythm and Booms is held. Every year, including this year, I put on a huge cookout for all of my friends and families with food, games, etc and then we walk to the park that the fireworks are in (or watch it from the back yard) and follow it up with a campfire with s’mores. This year, the fireworks are actually on my moms birthday, so we’re making it her birthday party too. Then, I’ll find fireworks elsewhere to watch Sunday and Monday night and there is even one on Tuesday 🙂 And to top it off, I started dating my husband right around the 4th.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie July 2, 2011, 12:40 am

    When I was around 6-12 we spent the 4th in Clear Lake Iowa where I learned to swim which was a major accomplishment at the time. Summer meals lake side, lighting bugs competing with the fireworks, a street fair. I can still smell the alfalfa and yearn for the cold watermelon and Bar-B-Que pork ribs. In many ways adulthood pales by comparison when everything was new and exciting.

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    Anna July 2, 2011, 2:09 am

    The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays! Celebrating freedom, grilling some delicious red meat, drinking cold beer, and lighting off fireworks are just a few of my favorite Independence Day activities. This year, I managed to get a 4 day weekend from work even though my workplace is open 24/7 so I am planning to live it up all weekend! The festivities began today when I went four wheeler riding with my boyfriend and a couple of his buddies from work. Unfortunately, I don’t know any other women that are into riding. We had a blast! Other plans for the weekend include the beach, probably the movies to see Cars 2 in 3D, and the shooting range. Good times!!

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    Lydia July 2, 2011, 2:45 am

    I’m Dutch, so the 4th of July is just that for me – the 4th day in July, nothing special. I just go to work like any other Monday.

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    SpaceySteph July 2, 2011, 4:32 pm

    Mmm now I want a hot dog.
    Fourth of July as a kid was mostly spent at summer camp, and was usually a fun time. My mom would send me an Old Navy flag tshirt every year, which was a fun tradition. Once she sent me red white and blue glitter nail polish which was awesome… my whole bunk painted our finger and toenails with it and felt super stylin’.
    No special plans for this year. Last year was my first July 4th with my bf and we went to a friend’s party, but this year alot of our friends are out of town. So… we’re probably just gonna grill some dinner and take in some local fireworks. Nothing too exciting, but it’ll be nice to relax.

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    fallonthecity July 2, 2011, 6:29 pm

    I love the Fourth! It was always one of my favorite holidays as a kid. My whole entire family on my mom’s side gets together for an eatin’ meetin’ at my aunt’s house (about 100 people) — the kids swim, we have box chicken (really, chicken cooked in a wood box), BBQ, and all the fixin’s and homemade ice cream, play volleyball, etc.

    This year I’m working but I should be able to make the tail end of the party and then catch a fireworks show later that night.

    Another highlight of the 4th for me is that I adopted a puppy this morning, and will get him July 5th after his neuter surgery… so I’m also spending my Independence Day weekend making sure my place is puppy-proofed! Haha 🙂

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    Bekah July 2, 2011, 10:41 pm

    I haven’t been in America for the 4th of July in three years, but before that I was also rarely in the USA for the 4th. I enjoy celebrating overseas because it brings together such a mix of people. This year I am throwing a barbeque at my work for my coworkers (Taiwanese, Canadians, and Americans) to celebrate the 4th, Canada day and show my Taiwanese coworkers some of our traditions. It should be fun and I really like sharing my heritage with others. A funny memory though was the time my aunt hung up an American flag outside her flat in London with floss, as she didn’t have any string!

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    Addie Pray July 3, 2011, 4:23 pm

    My family never celebrated the 4th in any memorable way. I remember being a kid and begging to go to the fireworks stand, but my parents never would spend money on that stuff. I would eventually convince them to get me some of those snapper things and maybe a few sparklers. Plus, we were never “lake goers,” which I think this holiday was made for. … Now, I’ll watch a fireworks show if there is one and the people I’m with want to, but ehhh. I’m never particularly impressed. Maybe because I don’t have a childhood memory attached to them. The best fireworks show I ever saw was in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower, on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 1999… Now that was a good show.

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    Marie July 3, 2011, 4:56 pm

    I will spending my 4th of July doing Western blots, lots and lots of Western blots. Oh and watching Wills and Kate footage online as they hang out in Canada!

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    TrixyMiny July 3, 2011, 8:53 pm

    My bday is on the fourth and I have to work.. Thankfully, I only work the morning shift so I can go out at night. Still sucks.

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    SGMcG July 4, 2011, 8:50 am

    Ever since I was in 4th grade (I really can’t remember – it’s been so long) one of the local TV stations in NY (WPIX – 11, now the NY local CW affiliate) invited viewers to “Spend Your Fourth in the Fifth Dimension” and would broadcast a Twilight Zone marathon. Since I used to have an English teacher who would make us write compositions on our opinions of episodes he would make us watch in class, watching them over the summer made the essay writing easier in the upcoming school year. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to catch the whole marathon – other times I only am able to watch one episode. I don’t even know if the marathon occurs on NY-Channel 11 anymore, yet I’m still able to catch the marathon on SyFy. Even when I attended classes in Berlin one summer, I was still able to catch at least one episode of the Twilight Zone on July 4th – streaming online. It really isn’t July 4 for me until I hear a bit of Rod Serling’s voice.

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