For as long as I can remember, the 4th of July has been the most important holiday in my family. Yep, it is more important to be home for the 4th than it was to be home at Thanksgiving or Christmas. As a kid, on the Fourth of July it was all about family, friends, fireworks and fun. My dad was a fireworks enthusiast. He saved all year, budged carefully and spent weeks preparing for his show! Now that he’s gone, the fireworks part isn’t quite the same, but the day still is. While the location and number of people has varied a little over the years, for me, the 4th is still my favorite holiday and I know my kids feel the same way!

What makes the 4th so special? For me, I think it’s the memories, but also the lack of pressure. There is not a fancy meal to cook, no need to dress up, there are no gifts to buy, it’s simply about family and fun. Unlike all of the other holidays, I have never really been stressed out over 4th of July preparations – and that says a lot!

Over the years we’ve hosted it at a lot of different places, but Granny’s house has been the most used location because you can also see the city fireworks from her driveway. That’s where we went this year with my brother and his wife and kids, my mom and her partner, granny, and some of my aunts and uncles. Granny lives about 2 hours away, so on the way to her house we always stop at the Fireworks store to load up on fun!

Once we get to Granny’s, most of our rules no longer apply and holiday rules go into effect. This means helping yourself to the cooler full of drinks appropriate for your age, access to candy bowls and treat drawers and unlimited snacks! The answer is pretty much never no with holiday rules! A light lunch of sandwiches, chips and fruit truly kick off the fun as the adults crack a beer open and the kids down a sugar filled drink! An afternoon of playing yard games, a family round of baseball and several quick trips to the fireworks stand up the street for the things we ‘forgot’ fill the afternoon. By dinnertime, the group size has typically increased. Neighbors, friends, etc. begin arriving. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun! In fact, the more the merrier! Dinner is always something on the grill – and as soon as we finish cleaning up, the fireworks fun begins. Sparklers and small fountains start us off as we progress to the bigger stuff. Just before the big city fireworks show, the kids get on their pajamas, we make root beer floats and popcorn and cuddle up to enjoy.

This is my favorite part of the day, sitting around in chairs and on blankets with all my family and tons of friends, this is the part that sticks in my mind year after year. Thinking back, I can remember the different friends who have joined us, the addition of my own kids and my nephews to the group, the coming and the going of neighborhoods, significant others, loved ones. I can remember the year my husband had an accessed tooth and was more upset about missing the 4th of July party than the pain in his mouth, the first year my brothers couldn’t make it, the year my best friend got married and I got to celebrate her, I remember shooting off rockets at the park with dad and matching shirts and the love, oh how I remember the love.