Reflecting on the 4th

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This time of year I love to see all the red, white and blue and feel the patriotism that spreads infectiously during July.  As a kid, the 4th was a really big deal.  My grandmother worked for days in advance to get ready for our annual barbeque with extended family.  It was always BBQ chicken and all the picnic foods you could think of.  When I was old enough, I would sleep over the night before and help her with cleaning and decorating (I probably wasn’t a big help, actually). We finished the party off with my grandmother’s delicious chocolate cake, ice cream and fireworks!

After desert we would wait for the light to fade in the sky and then Dad and Poppop would pull out their homemade setup for the small display.  It was never anything big; just the usual things that you can find in the store.  The legal stuff.  I could never wait until we broke out the sparklers.  Between all of the cousins, we’d fly through 20 packs in no time! We would draw and write our names in light.  Some of the pictures that we have are spectacular light shows! 

Unfortunately, the family has dwindled and spread out so that we don’t get together every year, but we still have fun with our intermediate family.  My kids are very young and don’t really “get” the 4th of July, but it won’t be long.  We still have a picnic and we still have fireworks, but it isn’t the 4th of July frenzy that I loved as a child.  Now that we are talking about my little ones “playing with fire,” I have been thinking about firework safety. Even though the holiday has passed, sparklers and fireworks are a staple at summer picnics. I did some research and thought I would share with you some tips that I have picked up.  If we are being safe, we can truly enjoy ourselves!

I’m not going to bore you with the “follow instructions on the package and use adult supervision” thing.  I assume you know that much.

  1. Have water and sand nearby.  In the event of an emergency, you can douse a fire with either one. 
  2. Place sparklers in sand after they are used because they are extremely hot.  They can reach temps as high as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.  No lie – that’s hot enough to melt gold.
  3. Never attempt to make your own fireworks.  Just don’t.
  4. Be sure not to lean over the item when lighting.  Also, please do not point anything at another person.  If it were to misfire, it would result in a major injury.
  5. Never relight a dud.  It is unstable.
  6. When cleaning up, soak all used fireworks in water before trashing.  They still have the ability to fire off.
  7. Never light more than one firework at a time.
  8. Do not allow children to pick up pieces that land on the ground.  They could still be active.


Remember the chocolate cake I mentioned earlier?  It’s amazing…like, death by chocolate amazing.  Sadly, I can’t share her exact recipe…it’s a secret.  But I can offer you one that is similarly decadent and delicious!  Check out Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Fudge cake (  The ingredients are comparable to my grandmother’s divine desert and anything that Nigella makes is awesome!


Lastly, as you are enjoying more family fun this July, here are a few tips to remember for a comfortable outing with the family:

  • Cold drinks (insulated sippy cups are a godsend)
  • Lots of wipes and hand sanitizer (for older children)
  • Snacks
  • Bring strollers with wheels that can handle gravel and grass.  Many of the venues listed above have both.
  • Sun block (during the day)
  • Prepare to do some walking.  We like our local/annual events around here so things can get a little congested.  Getting there early is best if you want good parking.
  • Just want to see the fireworks?  Park nearby and you will get a full view!





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