What Independence Day Means to Me

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” – A letter written by John Adams to his wife, Abigail.

To me, the Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite times of the year. The time of year when friends and family come together to celebrate their great country, when kids feel the grass tickling their bare feet as they run and play, when the smell of barbecue fills the air followed by the smell, sight, and sound of fireworks. I love to drive around and see houses that are decked out in red, white, and blue. Independence Day could mean different things to different people, I’m going to take this time to tell you what it means to me.

I don’t remember how old I was when my parents started their annual Fourth of July parties. I’m sure when they had the first one they never even realized it was the start of something permanent, but that’s what it became. I remember having fireworks every year growing up.  That was nothing new, but one year they invited some close friends and family over to the house for a barbecue and fireworks. Everyone had such a good time, we had it again the next year, and the year after. Tomorrow will be the first time I’ve been home for the annual party since I moved to England, which also means it will be the first one my kids experience. This is my favorite time of year, second only to Christmas.

It starts in the morning. As soon as we get out of bed we get going. My dad and brother work on setting things up outside, while my mom, sister, and I work on the decorations and food. The main meal is the barbecue, which will happen later in the afternoon when everyone has arrived, but surely as important as the barbecue is the dessert table! I can assure you that if you come to a gathering at the Jacobs’ house there will be an amazing selection of dessert. My sister always makes a patriotic fruit pizza. We always have red, white, and blue desserts as well as cookies, brownies, cakes, and anything else we happen to think of for that year. I love that time when we all gather to put everything together, while music plays in the background.
People start to arrive around two in the afternoon. We’re never sure who will come each year; we put it out there that everyone is invited and then we just hope for the best. We’ve had years where many people showed up and we’ve had years where only a couple of people showed up. What I’ve learned is that no matter how many people come, it’s always a blast.

From left: Lisa, our cousin Sarah, my sister Randa (middle, in the back), me, and Stephany. Fourth of July 2008.

From left: Lisa, our cousin Sarah, my sister Randa, me, and Stephany. Fourth of July 2008.

My parents have a swimming pool which is always open for whoever wishes to play in it. There are usually a couple of cornhole games happening in the front yard (we even had a tournament one year! My uncle David won that, there was a Cornhole Champion t-shirt and everything), if you don’t know what cornhole is you should definitely look it up, it’s very fun! My parents have a golf cart at their house and the kids (and sometimes adults, hah) all love to take rides around the yard in that. In past years we’ve played charades, telephone, had a bouncy castle, a slip-n-slide; just all kinds of fun stuff!

Lisa during a very intense game of charades.

Lisa during a very intense game of charades. Fourth of July 2007.

My cousin Daniel and my dad during a game of cornhole.

My cousin Daniel and my dad during a game of cornhole. Fourth of July 2012.

Playing Rook on the back deck. Fourth of July 2009.

Playing Rook on the back deck. Fourth of July 2009.

Once the sun sets, it’s time for the big show! Everyone gathers on the back deck for the fireworks, some even lounge in the pool. The men, of course, gather out in the yard where the stage is set. They are always beautiful and amazing. Once the fireworks are done, everyone who isn’t staying the night usually heads home.

One of many fireworks. Fourth of July 2012. Picture courtesy of my cousin Samantha.

One of many fireworks. Fourth of July 2012. Picture courtesy of my cousin, Samantha.

I feel like we do a pretty decent job of commemorating the date just like John Adams wished for when he wrote that letter to his wife, Abigail. Now and always, I am proud to be an American and this very American tradition will always be near and dear to my heart. As I wake up tomorrow to start the fun again, I hope all of you are doing something equally patriotic and joyful. Happy Independence Day!

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