Lovin’ the Fourth of July

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

We’re coming up on the Fourth of July weekend and I might as well confess that it’s my favorite time of the year.

I know, most people would choose Christmas as a favorite holiday, but mine is Independence Day.

It’s a great reminder of our history as a nation, which I enjoy learning more about. (Probably has something to do with visits to national parks and historic museums as a kid).

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But there are really two main reasons I love Independence Day.

One is that this holiday takes place smack dab in the middle of summer. And who doesn’t have great memories of summer?

Like many of you, I grew up swimming, fishing and water skiing – enjoying an ice cold watermelon, homemade vanilla ice cream and picnics complete with hot dogs and potato salad.

I have a vivid memory of learning to swim one summer. My grandmother and I were lying across a blue, blow-up float when my older brother came up from under it and pushed us both in the water.

My grandmother was prepared to yell at him for getting her hair wet, then realized she was wearing a black swimming cap that had little feathers on it.

I figured out that by kicking my legs and moving my arms, I could get to the surface.

I’ve loved swimming since then.

I like to remind my younger sister that I saved her life once. She was in a pool, going under and I jumped in and pulled her to the ladder.

She reminds me that I was the one who pushed her in.

When you’re a kid, summer days feel so long – like the sun will never set. That’s a great feeling – just sitting around with nothing to do but imagine what your life will be.

There’s a second reason I love the Fourth of July.

My birthday is July 2, so the Fourth weekend generally is a dual celebration in my family.

Every birthday cake I had growing up was red, white and blue with little American flags around the edges.

And when I was really young, I thought the fireworks were for me.

We shot Roman candles into the Mobile Bay, then watched them explode underwater.

Sparklers were a big hit, too.

My brother, sister, cousins and I played with fireworks in a way that I wouldn’t recommend – throwing firecrackers, or wrapping them up in bundles like dynamite and putting them under an overturned boat on the shore. Now, that makes a racket.

We also liked to shoot bottle rockets at one another, and at passing cars, but that stopped when a sheriff’s deputy drove by. (Like I said, I wouldn’t recommend it).

Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to the weekend and next week’s celebration.

Here’s hoping you and yours have a safe and Happy Independence Day.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Times-Journal.