My sister’s family has stayed with us every July 4th weekend since we bought the house. I’m so glad we were able to keep the tradition alive this year. It was the first time we saw them in person since the beginning of March. I know restrictions are getting stricter in many areas of the country, but where we are in New York, things are opening up. For us, that means opening our bubbles to people we know have been quarantining seriously for the past few months. We are still not going out to public spaces or restaurants. Just hanging at home with those closest to us. 

The best moment was being able to hug my mom. We’ve seen her a few times since March, but always masked at a distance. This was the first time we felt safe enough to hug.

Actually celebrating July Fourth felt very different this year. With everything we have all been learning and unlearning about our country’s history over the past few months, celebrating the birth of America didn’t feel quite right. I still love America. My mother immigrated here after the Holocaust ended. Most of her family had been killed by the Nazis, their hometown in Poland was destroyed and her family was living in a displaced persons camp in Germany while they waited for another country to take them in. America was that country, thanks to a relative who sponsored them. They came here by boat and one of my mother’s first memories is seeing the torch from the Statue of Liberty.

My sister and I are first generation Americans. So, we know all too well how lucky we are to land in “the land of the free.” But the ugliness at play in our current administration and the hatred that has bubbled to the surface all over the country makes the United States hard to embrace right now. I know the hatred was always there, but I didn’t realize the intensity and magnitude of it. I was content to live in my bubble.

So….over the weekend, we ate hot dogs, lit sparklers and spent time with family. But there was also lots of discussion about what this day means and how we feel about it.

The kids opted to wear red, white and blue.

But then, at lunch, Mazzy told us that she doesn’t celebrate July 4th. I asked her why and she said because, and I quote, “Donald Trump makes our country feel like garbage and it’s embarrassing in front of the rest of the world.” I told her that I agreed and the majority of people in this country are equally embarrassed by what he represents, which is the worst of the United States.

I wanted to make sure she understood the good parts of where she comes from too. So, I told her that one of the great things about the United States is that we have the freedom to protest the things we disagree with. Not all countries have that freedom. Then I told her about something I heard on the 1619 podcast— that the original ideals behind the Constitution of the United States were good, but where the founding fathers failed is that they did not consider all people equal. And through history, it is the marginalized groups, like POC, women, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, immigrants, who have challenged (and are still challenging) the US government to make good on its original promise.

Thankfully, most of my family members have been wrestling with the same questions, so we talked about politics and racism and what it means to be an American for most of the weekend. In between these discussions, we swam in the pool, relaxed in the hottub, mixed drinks and bashed the crap out of an emoji pinata filled with candy.

I know they look very ready for action here, but let me just say that cracking that smiley face open was a looooong and drawn out process. That wasn’t so much the kids’ fault as it was due to the fact that it took us well over 45 minutes to realize that this was a pull-string pinata! You have to actually pull the strings to get that sucker to open. Apparently, pull string pinatas are made of a material very similar to titanium.

There’s a video if you want to see Mazzy absolutely wailing on this poor thing. And Neve breaking down about 30 minutes in.

Eventually we realized the error of our ways, pulled the strings and watched the candy easily drop to the ground.

It was basically the definition of anticlimactic. But, it was very time consuming which was cool!

After the pinata, everyone showered and changed for dinner. Harlow, of course, had the perfect dress for the occasion. She always does. We have this dress in two different sizes and I think one of my kids has worn it every July 4th since Mazzy was four.

Also, what do you think of Harlow’s Quarantine Hair? It’s getting LONG!

Mike was making his first ever Rotisserie chicken on the grill. He was super excited to try out his new rotisserie rack.  Harlow (who loves to eat chicken off a bone) went up to Mike as he was grilling, hugged him and said “It’s so beautiful. I love you.” Ha!

It really was a beautiful chicken. Here is Harlow enjoying her favorite thing— “chicken on the bone.”

That is the face of a satisfied customer.

Have I mentioned Frankie? There is nothing she loves more than the freedom to run around our deck. Look at this little face!

Right as dinner was ending, we heard fireworks start to go off across the creek. We all gathered on our dock to watch. Usually, we go see the fireworks in West Hampton, but this year, we were content with the amateur ones we could see from our backyard. The moon was ridiculously big and beautiful too. I heard it was a lunar eclipse that night.

Then Grammy and Sammy brought out the sparklers to cap off the night.

Despite all of the problems in the world right now (and there are many), we still have a lot to celebrate. We are healthy and we were together. In the end, our July 4th felt more like a family reunion than anything else. It was the most normal day we’ve all had in a really long time.

How did you feel about celebrating the 4th this year?