On July Fourth, we celebrated the birth of this country with a family cook out. Garris was with me this year for the Fourth, and even though it fell on a Wednesday, he wanted to celebrate the day on the actual holiday, not on one of the weekends. Like he said, it just isn’t the same. He and I spent several days getting things ready.
He ran the weed eater, cutting down grass and weeds, and making a nice spot for the fire pit and lawn chairs. He picked up dog poop. We moved tables and chairs from the barn to the fire. We cut down tree branches.
And I spent a good day in the kitchen, making potato salad, devilled eggs (a must whenever Cy comes for a meal), baked beans, and fruit salad. I even made ‘weaved’ bacon so we could try a new s’more recipe, using those bacon weaves instead of graham crackers. I baked cookies.
Thankfully all three of my boys were able to make it. Cy and Syl both arrived at the same time. When Cy and Regan drove in, the Lee Greenwood song, ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ was blaring from the radio. They made quite the appropriate entrance. My folks drove over. Regan’s folks drove over. And Colleen and Johne made it. In all, we had about a dozen people chilling around the fire.
Garris had chosen his outfit with great care. He had on an American flag-themed tank top, with a short sleeved button shirt, also adorned with flags. We had found a pair of red, white, and blue flag swimming trunks and he had a flag bandana wrapped around this camo bucket hat. No one could claim he was anything but patriotic.
We had hoped to get his pool up by the cookout, but with his still-healing wrist, we just weren’t able to get it out of the barn in time.
Once the fire was ready, folks started roasting hot dogs and sausages. The smell of searing meat filled the air. And the sound of easy conversation and laughter completed the dinner. Everyone loaded up on their favorite foods. Helped themselves to drinks – both adult and kid friendly. It was an easy way to get us all together.
As we sat in the late afternoon sunshine, I felt a peace wash over me. A thankfulness about the life I am so fortunate to live. Not only do I have a beautiful home, with stunning views of the Tobacco Root mountains, but I am free.
Sure, I complain about taxes and about the less-than-perfect situation of the world. But I can do pretty much anything I want with my life.
And I don’t know anywhere else in this world where that statement is true.
While many Americans look at this day as an excuse to miss work, or to have an extended weekend, or to over drink, I have made a point with my kids to stress the reason for this day. We celebrate our independence, and the sacrifices made by men a couple hundred years ago to ensure that independence.
Some years, we spend this day at a rodeo, another tradition in my part of the world. It’s considered ‘cowboy Christmas’ during this first part of July, where rodeo cowboys can win a considerable amount of money, due to the sheer number of rodeos available to enter. But, I have always preferred staying home on the Fourth. We avoid the crazy drunken drivers. We avoid the over-zealous crowds. And it’s just a way to reconnect with everyone, especially since my older boys are no longer at home.
We weren’t able to shoot any fireworks last night; too much wind. And since everyone left by nine o’clock, Garris didn’t want to do the fireworks with just the two of us. Can’t say that hurt my feelings any. I always get a bit nervous shooting exploding, flammable things off. I worry about unintended sparks starting a fire. And after last year’s lightning strike, I was more than happy to forego the fireworks this year.
One of the best parts of the evening was seeing all three of the boys goofing off together. They were having a roping contest in the barn, and I think that’s the first time in about four years Sylvis has picked up a rope. Then, Cy pulled Sylvis around in a big feeding sled, while Sylvis tried to ‘surf’. Of course, he flew out of the sled on a turn and scraped up his arm on the gravel. That’s when the game ended.
And, of course, the three of them had to wrestle, with the two older boys picking on Garris. But now, size wise, Garris can pretty much hold his own.
I hated to see the evening end, but it had to. I was just grateful for the time spent with everyone and for the opportunity to host the cookout. And for my annual gratitude prayer to the powers that be for seeing fit to place me in this gracious country. Despite the political climate and turmoil currently boiling in our nation, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
Every year, when I listen to a patriotic song list and get a refresher course in the history of our nation, and our flag, I tear up. I think about so many generations of men dying for their right to independence. Dying for a new country’s birth. Dying so that future Americans could live free.
For me, the Fourth of July isn’t about fireworks or partying. It isn’t about snagging an extra day off work. This day is about remembering where this nation started and the sacrifices freely given to ensure this nation would survive. It’s about the promise of a country where everyone is created equal and everyone has the same opportunities to achieve their dreams.
And I am proud to be an American. For one day, there was no talk of politics. There was no debate over hot-button issues currently happening. There was no conflict between any of us. We simply enjoyed a beautiful day together, celebrating the fact that we all could.
Happy Fourth of July 2018!
Check out a few more pictures of the party prep at Twitter: @jodiicenoggle