Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 4, 2002

Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!

The Fourth of July means hot weather, occasional thunderstorms, family picnics, fireworks and lots of red, white and blue. I usually tie a red, white and blue ribbon on my mailbox, put one of my house plants in a red and blue basket on the dining table, and display a small flag wall hanging.

This year, I also put a Mary Engelbreit patriotic print in a red frame and hung it in the living room. The print is of a little girl dressed in red, white and blue holding two flags. The anonymous saying above her is: "It is red for love, and it's white for law, and it's blue for the hope that our forefathers saw, of a larger liberty."

I sometimes feel guilty that I don't spend more time thinking of red, white and blue decorations I could buy or make or that I don't purchase patriotic-colored clothes for my family. Then I see the ads in the paper and remind myself that I really don't want or need flag print socks and Art doesn't want or need flag print boxer shorts. A few years back, my Mom had a friend make red, white and blue dresses for my girls and my sister's girls for the Fourth. The girls were cute in those dresses, and that was OK.

A recent Kansas City Star "Simplify Your Life" article really got the guilt feelings going full force, though. It was titled "Perfect Picnic: Plan ahead for the Fourth and pack a basket of fun." In that article, the author of Picnic: 125 Recipes with 29 Seasonal Menus, said:

"Often the best part of picnicking is the spontaneity of it - throwing a picnic basket together at the last minute - but planning and packing the basket just right can add to the event's atmosphere of fun."

She explained that you should have dips and fresh veggies to start off the picnic, foods marinated in vinegar and oil instead of mayonnaise which might spoil, and after-dinner dessert treats. The photo spread that accompanied the article made my mouth water. But I don't usually think that far ahead for a holiday that's supposed to be part of the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

When I was growing up in Burns, we had hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, watermelon and home-made ice cream on the Fourth. After eating, we headed over to Peabody for the parade and fireworks display. I remember sitting on old quilts and blankets under the trees waiting for the big show. Peabody went all out - and still does - for its annual Fourth celebration. The whole town participates in the activities and each year, the fireworks committee seems to outdo the displays of the previous ones.

Now that I live in Keats, I can enjoy another old-fashioned, small-town Independence Day celebration. The community has a parade, food and fireworks. A couple of years ago, my sister, our four girls and I went to the Keats park to watch the parade - which was pretty long for such a small place - and to eat the food. It was so hot, we retreated to our house and watched the fireworks from our deck.

Since my parents moved to Manhattan, we now celebrate the Fourth at their house. This year, we plan to serve corn-on-the-cob, fresh green beans and new potatoes for supper. Then we'll watch the girls twirl sparklers and light the small black discs that grow into smoking snakes that hiss and grow. And, if we're lucky, we'll be able to see "Thunder over Manhattan" from their deck.

The simple ways to celebrate Independence Day are my favorites.

2002 Index