There's something about the Fourth of July — a hot summer holiday celebrating the nation's independence — that is etched in my memories through the decades.
Growing up, it was my family's holiday. On Easter, we would go to my aunt's house. Mother's Day was celebrated at another aunt's place. Memorial Day, we were camping on Guntersville Lake, and Thanksgiving and Christmas were set at my grandparents' homes on Sand Mountain.
But the Fourth was all ours.
It was a time when both sides of my family joined together at my parents' home for a humid day of grilling, fish frying, country sides like coleslaw and potato salad, the first garden vegetables, overripe watermelon and my favorite — homemade Grapico ice cream.
On that particular day, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends would try their hand at horseshoes, swim or play a round of ping-pong. Late in the day, the kids could be found watching salt-covered ice spin round and round as we waited for the purple ice cream to set. The aging adults could be found lying in a hammock or set up under a shade tree dozing off.
The ones who couldn't handle the heat were in the air-conditioning, watching baseball. Every once in a while, my dad would look for a good laugh by throwing a firecracker in the distance to see who would jump and who would squeal.
At the end of the day, we would pile in the back of pickup truck and head over to the lake for fireworks. Looking back, I have memories of feeling all was right in my little world.
I know times have changed, all is not right with the world, and celebrations this year will be different due to the pandemic. Yet, I can't help but hope my children will one day reminisce and have similar feelings when they're about my age.
I hope they have memories of eating until they're stuffed and going back for a burnt hot dog. I hope the have memories of being sticky with sweat from playing the day away. I hope they remember their dirty flip-flopped feet and red-drink mustaches.
I hope they remember smelling like sulfur from the smoky fireworks and their night ending with the sounds of “oohs” and “aahs.” I hope they remember being so tired, we had to tote them into the house and put them to bed still dirty and worn out from the day.
This year has been one that will fill the history books and be read about for generations to come. It's been a somber and surreal year for many across the nation. I won't downplay those very real feelings, but I also won't give up hope that when we look back, we'll have positive moments to remember, too.
— Scripps hopes you have a happy, healthy and safe Fourth of July. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.