Crickets are chirping. A warm breeze blows through the window. The grass is wet and soft under your feet. Summer is here and so is Independence Day. From an American celebrating the holiday in Saudi Arabia to a newly single mother reminiscing about Fourth of Julys past, get great ideas -- and inspiration -- on how other women are spending America's birthday.
Celebrating Outside the City
We don't live in the city limits, so we have an annual Fourth of July celebration. For the five years since we moved out here, we hold a party complete with fireworks. We have three acres, a pool and horses, so everyone enjoys getting away from the city. We supply the meat and everyone brings a dish. If we are late in sending out invitations, we start getting questions from our friends making sure we are having one. Good friends, good food and good fun!
A Single Mom Remembers the Holiday
Before I was divorced, I lived in Oregon for 10 years. My kids grew up there, and we usually went to Lincoln City for the fireworks on the coast. We had no family there, so sometimes friends would go with us, otherwise we just took the kids and went for the day. We went about midafternoon and messed around the shops, played on the beach and nailed down our "spot" on the beach. We made sure we parked the car on the side of the street heading toward home so we didn't get too tangled up in the traffic.
When I got divorced, I moved back to my hometown in another state. My family and kids are here now, and we always do something. Usually, someone with a big house and yard has everyone over for a big potluck barbecue. My sister lives just outside of town in a lovely home with a big pretty yard. She decorates all over the place with flag stuff and patriotic colors. We sometimes will go into town to watch the Riverfront Park fireworks if the weather is good. If not, we just hang out and party
This year I'm making a great cake. It is a sheet cake, and I got the idea from a magazine design for cupcakes. Do half the cake in a beige-white frosting and the other half in a blue-white frosting. Make the blue look like water or waves and make the other half look like sand. Do a beach scene on it by sticking two or three of those little umbrellas that go in cocktails in the "sand," then add a striped round hard candy for a beach ball and a couple of striped candies to look like beach chairs. The cupcakes really looked cute, so I think it will make a fun sheet cake.
My husband and I live in the Washington, D.C., area, so we get to see the most spectacular Independence Day fireworks celebration in the country. Thousands of people gather on the National Mall, where we bring a picnic supper and watch the fireworks at 9pm. We go with a small group of friends in the evening, an hour or so before the fireworks begin and after it has cooled off just a bit. Earlier in the day, we relax at home, enjoying the day off.
Simple and Relaxing
We never do a lot, but we have the greatest view of the neighboring subdivision's fireworks show without ever leaving our front yard. And it's just not the Fourth of July without fresh-baked cookies to watch the fireworks with. We've lived here three years and that's the only thing consistent we've done.
Independence Day Abroad
Here in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. consulate hosts a big bash that costs 100 SR to enter (and you must be a United States passport holder). But it is never on July 4 -- or even near it, for security reasons. This year it was on May 10 (so it also acted as Memorial Day, Flag Day and maybe even Mother's Day or Father's Day).
The consulate swarms with the Saudi Royal Guard (who are heavily armed and who ogle all the ladies in shorts), while members of the American Women of the Eastern Province, the local American Legion post and the American Businessmen's Association man the entry, checking names against the list of people who purchased tickets. At least 300 families attend, and there is a size limitation because space is limited on the consulate grounds.
Beer and wine are served (five tickets per person with admission), water and soft drinks are free, and hot dogs and hamburgers are the food of the day. The Marine color guard enters with the flag and then they recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the national anthem. There are games for kids, a DJ playing music of all sorts, and booths selling souvenirs.
My husband contributed 50 American flag pins he made while on home leave (they were made out of beads and quilting safety pins). The American Legion post sold them for 10 SR each. The consulate also sells things, as do the Marines. The party starts at 3 and is over at 7:30. There are no fireworks -- too obvious. In fact, I have never seen fireworks in Saudi Arabia. Not a whole lot like the Independence Day parties back home, but pretty typical of Independence Days for expatriates all over the world.
We have young children, so we usually do a few fireworks from home and watch the neighbors do the same. This year we may have another couple over, perhaps my brother's family. We do put out a flag and use the red, white and blue dinnerware. I have also made a flag cake with blueberries and strawberries for the stars and stripes.
Working on the holiday
This might sound boring to you all, but I have to work this July 4. We rotate holidays at work and it is my turn to work that day. I work 3pm to 9pm, so we may be able to cook out for lunch, and if I make it home right after work we may dash over to the fireworks.
A Symphony Celebration
We go to my sister's house, which is just a few blocks from the huge celebration at the waterfront in Tacoma, Washington. She usually has an open-house event where people are passing through all day and into the night, chatting at her house, taking a walk to the waterfront to enjoy the bands, food, booths and other entertainment. The fireworks start at 10pm. The 45-minute show is usually great with the Tacoma Symphony accompanying.