The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate many traditions. 

July 3, 2024

Since childhood, the Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays-right up there with Christmas. I think the Fourth was so special because of the anticipation of the big parade with marching drum corps, crowds of people in a sea of waving flags and the thought of the delicious food my mother would prepare for the relatives who celebrated with us.

The picnic table was set with a red-and-white gingham tablecloth, and tiny American flags were the centerpieces. At the grill, Dad would be cooking his homemade sausage 

While Dad had his marching orders, Mom took care of preparing the rest of the picnic foods, 

Dessert was a luscious, signature chiffon cake with lemon curd filling. As it baked, that cake rose to great heights in her well-worn tube pan, and I always loved how Mom tipped the pan over as it came out of the oven and propped the whole thing over the neck of a wine bottle so the cake would not fall as it cooled. To me, that was sheer bravery!

My job was the strawberries-huge ones that I decked out in white chocolate with blue sugar tips to complement Mom’s red, white and blue theme. 

When everyone gathered at the picnic table, we celebrated America and what it meant to us in a big way; my grandparents became citizens after leaving their native Italy. We said a communal prayer for the gift of freedom before eating and toasting our grandparents.

We played card games, baseball and bocce ball (a salute to the old country), and when the promise of nightfall came, we lit our sparklers and sang “Happy Birthday” to America.

I have kept those childhood traditions alive: making Mom’s recipes as well as displaying my flag arrangement with my grandfather’s naturalization papers and his passport, issued during the reign of King Victor Emmanuel. For me, these traditions are reminders that the Fourth of July is not just about parades, fun and picnics; it is a day to say thank you for America.

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