It’s the Fourth of July! Dad wakes us up early to help Mom get ready for the party, and we each have jobs to do. The weather couldn’t be better. Mom’s in the kitchen making her famous jello salad, fruit salad in a watermelon basket, pasta and potato salads, eggplant parm, and tons of other food. Dad’s outside putting up the volleyball net and setting up tables and chairs under the big tent we put up last night. Nate and I head to the flower garden to weed and deadhead the red, white and blue petunias. Jonathan hops on the quad with a cooler and zips up to the farm market to fill it with ice and pick up a fresh bag of corn.
We scurry around all morning, no time for breakfast, but we’ll be eating all afternoon. We get the drinks in the cooler, decorate the tables and the fence around the pool, and finalize everything. Well, Mom does most of the work, and we help as we can. I get to put the finishing touches on the flag cake, placing strawberries and blueberries in the whipped cream, while the boys head down to put balloons at the end of the driveway. Dad moves our cars out into the orchard, to show everyone where they can park.
Before we know it, it’s party time! Guests start to arrive, and Mema and Pa usually get there first. Then an endless stream of company arrives: aunts, uncles, cousins, friends that are more like family, people my dad is building houses for, neighbors… everyone’s invited to celebrate our nation’s independence. They arrive bearing appetizers, salads, desserts, each bringing their own famous specialty.
We kids divide our time between the pool, the trampoline and the yard, practicing our volleyball skills. The grown ups talk, and we all enjoy the delicious appetizers. While all the adults keep an eye on everyone in the pool, one aunt is the official lifeguard. My Mom is busy the whole time, and my Dad starts the grill. He calls us out of the pool to help husk the corn, and then it’s time to eat! We fill our plates with chicken, hot dogs, burgers, salads, corn, baked beans, deviled eggs, and ziti. The grown ups take seats in the shade under the tent, and the kids head to our favorite place to eat: the trampoline. We scramble up, helping each other get our plates of food up with us. We enjoy our own private kids’ “table.”
The grown ups have a serious game of volleyball later in the afternoon, and we all climb out of the pool to join them. It’s very competitive, and in the end we’re not even sure who won. Then it’s back to the pool for Marco Polo, Sharks and Minnows, races and diving competitions. Late in the afternoon, my dad hitches up the horses and takes us for a hayride around the farm. Mom and some of our aunts get dessert ready, the flag cake, pies from the farm market, cookies, brownies and bars.
When it gets dark, we’re roasting s’mores and notice fireworks in the distance, out over the apple orchard. We drag chairs and towels to the edge of the lawn to “Ooh!” and “Ahh!” at the red, white and blue explosions. After the show, we head back to the pool.
As it gets later, the parents begin to get their kids to dry off. We beg our parents to let this cousin or that one sleep over, and we get promises for sleepovers next week. We don’t want the party to end, but the protests don’t last long, since we’re all beat from the busy day. Mom and Dad don’t worry about the mess, they’ll clean it up tomorrow. We fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.