Friday, July 3, 2009

Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Independence Day is a day of fun, families, friends, and food! Ever since I was young we had hamburgers and hot dogs, watermelon, potato salad, corn on the cob, and usually some type of fruit pie with homemade vanilla ice cream on the side. I find this to be traditional fare among many American families. But the 4th of July is special in my family for a different reason...

It's my birthday!

Having a birthday on the 4th is an interesting affair. When I was younger I couldn't imagine having it on any other day and when I would ask my mother if the fireworks were for me she would always reply, "Why yes of course!" I felt special...And I made sure my little sister heard this and was prompt to note that she never got fireworks on her birthday. Children can be so vindictive.

But being a Yankee-Doodle-Dandy isn't all it's fire-crackered up to be either. As I got older I wanted to have parties with my friends. But since they were all doing stuff with their families, I stuck close to home. When I was in college I spent most of my birthdays alone as my family started making their own Independence Day plans by going to the local minor league baseball game to eat hot dogs and watch the fireworks on the baseball diamond lawn. I didn't want to spend my birthday that way and they naturally assumed I'd be with my friends or roommates anyway.

Not so. My closest friends have amazing 4th of July traditions that are unwavering and every year it baffles me. Even though it's an important holiday for my family too, especially with it being my birthday, we never have that many plans or traditions. Maybe it's because of my birthday that we don't.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's just an interesting predicament that surprises me to this day. This year I've tried to get rid of my expectations and embrace the day for what it really is. It's about remembering hundreds of years of history, but I think more importantly, however, that it's about setting aside time for family, whatever that means for you. This year I am going to the baseball game with my family and on Sunday we are having a family/holiday/birthday dinner.

Now that I'm a vegetarian, the traditional 4th of July feast is altered a bit. Instead of burgers and hot dogs (much to some members of my family's chagrin) we will be having shrimp and veggie kabobs. We still have pie - I've never been a lover of cakes. This year my mom is making a wonderful cherry pie. We used to have peach, but the peaches around here aren't ripe yet, which means they come from California or somewhere farther. My mother has discovered a lovely farm about 45 minutes up the highway that grows cherries and freezes them over the winter to sell in the early spring at the farmer's market. These are what will be our pie.

In the mean time, I hope your holiday is full of sunny skies, parks, parades, fun runs, festivals, family, friends, fireworks, hot dogs/hamburgers/kabobs, and of course, cherry pie.

Photo Credits: Fireworks, Cherry Pie

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