July 4th has always been a big family gathering time. My parents were actually married on the 4th of July so we would celebrate their anniversary along with Independence Day. I think they did this because they knew family would be around anyway and then my dad would not forget the anniversary as easily!

Since my parents moved to Lake Chemung we have had large family gatherings at their house. Last year, my dad’s last 4th of July, was the 10th anniversary of these gatherings. And they just keep getting bigger and bigger. And these parties last for at least two to three days!

Every room in the house and now my house as well is occupied. Some years tents and campers even fill the yard. The lakeshore is full of the boats, IMAG3408kayaks, and water wheelers.

Noodles, sand toys, chairs, towels, and children are everywhere. Food of any kind is continuously served, and dishes and towels are continuously washed!

Swimming, taking boat rides, an occasional tube ride, decorating the boat for the parade, and the lakeshore with flags are traditions. Wearing matching 4th of July shirts for the endless family pictures is a norm.

Grilling, fishing, sparklers, bonfires, and s’mores happen often. Yard games abound along with conversation and laughter and often reading or a nap in the sun if you can find a quiet spot.

4th of July means family time for us. One of the favorite events is of course fireworks. As the sun sets those who have been chosen to ride the boat grab sweatshirts, blankets, and life jackets and pile on.

The boat slowly joins the throng of boats in the middle of the lake to watch fireworks light up the sky above. The lake is finally calm as all the boats from the day that have been keeping the water full of waves move slowly and settle to watch the show.

Last year my immediate family went. Dad knew that it would most likely be his last 4th of July and so my mom and dad, my husband and children, my sister, her husband, and kids piled on the boat for what would be the last fireworks show with my dad. It was a special time.

This year as we celebrate the 4th without Dad I will remember the laughs and smiles as he relished the family around him. He loved to have his family and friends both immediate and extended around.

He joyed in sharing what he had with those he loved. It was a happy time and one of his favorites. He loved to see others around him enjoying the party he hosted.

He joyed in sharing what he had with those he loved.

So although my dad will not be there we will celebrate family and the freedom to love each other. We will remember the joy he found in sharing what he had with others as this year the party gets bigger! Mom will make her cucumber salad, and Koegel Vienna’s and Kern’s Brats will be grilled.

Watermelon, and red, white, and blue fruit bowls will be shared. Flags, sparklers, and fireworks will be found and enjoyed. And the boat will find its way to the quiet middle of the lake as family and friends enjoy the firework show and celebrate family and freedom.

Here is my 4th of July Pinterest board with some of my favorite things to try for the 4th this year! 

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