Like so many other holidays, the “Fourth of July” has rather morphed from its original intended meaning—celebrating the United States of America’s Independence from England—to something else: fireworks, BBQs, and hotdog eating contests. Personally, as something of a purist, I recoil when people call it the “Fourth of July.” We are celebrating the birth of our country, not a particular day on the calendar. That’s like one saying she celebrate’s “December 25th” to note that she observes Christmas. I realize this makes me sound very prickly and un-fun, so I let it go…
The purpose of this essay is to brainstorm about nifty ways that individuals and families can move beyond eating, drinking and watching fireworks to recognize the holiday. Some of these ideas are more serious than others. And the “Top 10 List Below is a beginning, not an end:
Red, White & Blue Treats. A very popular way to note the day is making some special (and fabulous) dessert item that features our nation’s colors. With Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs, one could make a patriotic treat every single day of the year.
Patriotic Playlist. There are innumerable contemporary and classic patriotic song that can be combined into a superb playlist, whether one is hosting a party or hanging around the house. From booming marches by Sousa’s to Aaron Copland’s compelling “Fanfare for a Common Man,” to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is your Land,” all create a rich body of tunes that can be expanded every year.
Cards & Craft Projects. I’m happy to make cards for any occasion (or no occasion), but there are many wonderful craft items that can be purchased for easy, at-home projects, for adults or kids. And, with online shopping, it couldn’t be easier. Some of my favorite sites include Oklahoma’s own Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Oriental Trading Company, and Paper Source.
Fancy Ensembles. As I write, I’m decked out in a red “Marilyn Monroe” dress and some favorite red earrings. One can go for period costume, with a Colonial flare, or something more sedate…upscale preppy from the Ralph Lauren Collection and strangely charming courtesy of the Goodwill. Check out my friend Hans Riemer and his family in this adorable shot. He’s now a local elected official in Maryland. Who wouldn’t vote for such a patriot?
Decorate your Home. From hanging Old Glory to banners and swags of all sorts, there are inexpensive decorations that can be made or purchased and used year-after-year. My late mother seemed to decorate for every single holiday. I think it is a fabulous idea.
Patriotic Basket to Share. This is essentially a derivative of the May Basket idea. With May baskets, flowers are left on the doorstep of unsuspecting neighbors. Here one can put together a nifty basket with red, white and blue items. Ideas are limitless but might include fresh strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes from the local farmers’ market, white flowers (daisies, carnations, or roses will do), some of those red, white and blue cupcakes, cards or stationery products.
Declaration of Independence. A few years ago, I found myself in lovely Williamstown, MA for a few Independence Day Celebrations. At their theatre, the Declaration of Independence was read in its entirety. The same could be done at home. On social media, I came across a family that would have guests over for their Fourth of July Celebrations–year-after-year; the guests would sign their copy of the Declaration of Independence.
America at the Movies. What movies say Americana to you? “Independence Day,” “Field of Dreams,” “Forrest Gump,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “1776,” “Lincoln,” and “American Sniper”? This is an especially good option if weather isn’t cooperating with holiday plans.
Volunteer to Help a Veteran. While not a military holiday specifically, it is always a good time to say thanks to our Veterans, be it those who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or earlier conflicts. If it isn’t possible to do something in person, consider visiting a website that helps Vets such as the Wounded Warrior Project or IAVA. A financial contribution is always appreciated.