If ever there was a group of people who know how to do patriotic holidays with flair and style, it is military families. These aren’t just national holidays – these are OUR holidays. Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day are both solemn occasions often misunderstood by our friendly civilian neighbors. But it’s hard to get the 4th of July wrong – everyone can join the party and celebrate our nation’s birthday.
And so I bring you my top 10 ways to celebrate Independence Day.
1. Host your own red, white and blue decoration explosion. You’d think a flag had gone and thrown-up on my house the way we cover it in banners, bunting and flags. We love to decorate our home in patriotic colors so there can be no mistaking our love for America.
2. Watch an actual explosion. Before I was clued into how dashing and fantastic my husband is, we were college classmates and I thought he was really, really annoying. Why? Because he loved fireworks to the point that “blowing stuff up” was pretty much all he talked about. And so you can imagine the dedication to fireworks that he feels over the July 4th holiday. BOOM! And his combat experience, by the way, has not seemed to make him shy away from this one.
3. Watch the fireworks on the National Mall. When I lived in D.C. the National Mall fireworks was my yearly tradition. And just because I live far away now doesn’t mean I have to miss them. They are broadcast live on PBS -- and it's pretty fun. Find more information about that here. And if you're a fuddy-duddy like me who doesn't really like being out of her house after 8 p.m., PBS is the perfect way to both watch fireworks and wear your pajamas at the same time.
4. Eat patriotic pie. The only thing my husband is more dedicated to than fireworks is pie. The fact that our son was born on “pi day” (3.14) tickled him to pieces. So pretty much any holiday is an excuse to eat pie. But there’s something particularly fun about cooking pies with blue or red fruit filling and then serving them (one piece of each!) with white, vanilla ice cream. Yum. And if pie isn’t your thing you can still eat patriotic treats – check out this great patriotic cheesecake recipe.
5. Barbeque something. It may sound cliche, but what would the 4th be without a good old American cookout? Wow, writing this is making me really hungry.
6. Start a yearly Independence Day movie tradition. Will Smith is practically the Dean of Summer Movies, and so it makes perfect sense that you would celebrate everyone’s favorite summer holiday by watching a movie with him it. "Independence Day," anyone? While this fun 4th of July tradition doesn’t belong to my family, it does seem to be a great success with a close friend. Give it a try!
7. Go to a parade. When I was growing up our small town held a dinky little parade that everyone and their mom attended, no matter the weather. I counted myself one lucky lady that my dad's office was right on the parade route, and so we had front row real estate to what I thought was the best parade ever. Since that time I've learned that parades aren't really all that much fun for adults -- it gets boring mighty fast. But for the kiddos parades are where it's at. So take your little ones out and them wave at the firemen to their heart's content.
8. Have a rainy day plan. While most of the country is hotter than blue blazes on the 4th, there are portions where rain is a very real possibility. But that doesn't mean you have to stay inside. Instead of skipping that rain or shine parade, why not stock-up on red white and blue umbrellas just in case and hit the parade route in style?
9. Get really drunk. There’s a guy in my house right now delivering my new microwave. He says he is former Army, and his favorite way to celebrate the 4th is to get really, really drunk. While I’m not personally condoning this, let’s go ahead and recognize that it is, in fact, a top 10 way to recognize the day.
10. Head on base. Every base worth its salt throws some sort of 4th of July party. And if you can stand the crowds and the heat, they can be really fun. While most of them usually end with fireworks, you’re libel to find everything from jump houses for the kids to free concerts for the adults.
Happy Birthday, America! What's your family's favorite 4th of July tradition?