What would the Fourth of July be without a picnic?
When I was a kid, my family used to have a picnic with these farmer-family friends of ours. We would drive up to the top of a hill in the middle of a hay field for summer sun and cool breezes. We threw down an old, worn blanket and pulled our lunch from a picnic basket.
When I purchased my grandparent's house, I hosted a family Fourth of July picnic each year. My dad usually grilled out for me since I never learned how to use my grill until I decided my life was an adventure every day and it was about time...when I moved to Springfield. Because of my tendency towards overly planned and extreme party themes, it was a far cry from the picnics of my youth.
If it wasn't hot dogs, brats, and baked beans, it usually fell into the red, white, and blue category. I displayed salsa in red wine goblets and perched bowls of pasta salad on silver trays. We still ate at a picnic table in the back yard, but it was draped in red checkered cloth and you wiped away spilled ketchup and mustard with red cloth napkins.
Since moving to Springfield, my sister has taken up the reigns of hosting the big family backyard celebration. Her family has recently converted to a Paleo lifestyle and so family gatherings with food always take a little more planning. Having the celebration at their house, they were able to put out a completely Paleo picnic spread. Their kids could eat whatever they wanted and the rest of the guests enjoyed it just as much by the looks of their swollen bellies and droopy eyes after lunch. I really enjoyed the bacon wrapped chicken skewers with my sister's homemade BBQ sauce and her potato salad with homemade mayo. She's quite crafty, that one.
The thing that stood out the most this Fourth of July holiday for me was that it doesn't matter if you are eating out of a basket on a hill, from silver trays, or enjoying healthy food. It is the company you keep. It is poking fun of your backwards Pete uncle, telling the same jokes we've heard for years, and watching the kids playing with bubbles or swinging on the swings. And laughter. There is always a healthy dose of laughter.