4th of July

I woke with a start. Sunlight streamed in through the window. I could hear the sound of cooking and talking going on downstairs. Wonderful smells wafted in through my open bedroom door. The door creaked as a head poked itself in. My younger twin brothers, Georgie and Danny, grinned at me mischievously.


"What're you guys doing?" I laughed, getting out of bed and swinging my pajama-d legs out of the grabbing covers. "Argh!!!!" They squealed and I chased them into the hallway and all the way down to their rooms. I laughed so hard I nearly snorted.


Then I ran back into my room. I closed the door and locked it, glancing at my calendar while I was at it. I knew today was the day circled--the 4th of July, the best day of the year! I smiled to myself and threw on a T-shirt and a pair of raggedy shorts before running out of the room and down the stairs.


"Morning, Mom!" I grinned, running into the kitchen.


"Megan," Mom started, hands quickly shaking pieces of chicken in a bag full of flour and spices, "can you please...?" she beckoned with her head towards the pile of dishes that was starting to stack up.

I only grinned and got my hands soapy. After the dishes were done, I helped Mom take the corn out of the oven and set it next to the huge tub of mashed potatoes. Georgie and Danny were eyeing the huge watermelon sitting on the counter by the huge knife, licking their lips. I glared playfully at them and shooed them out of the kitchen.

"Mercy me, Megan!" Mom burst as we got the last of the food ready. "Your hair! You haven't even brushed it!"

"Mommm..." I groaned.

She glared and plopped me down. My brothers watched all-too-eagerly as Mom pulled at the unruly frizzies and curls of my brown hair and then pulled it into a managable ponytail.

"Mom," I pleaded, "we're going to be late! You know that everybody's probably already at the house! And where's Dad?"

"He went up early," Mom explained. "Grandpa needed some help setting up tables."

After my hair ordeal was done, my older sister, Darcy, had finally woken up. My teenager sister helped Mom and I get the food into the minivan and made sure that the boys didn't even try touching the cans of pop waiting in piles of ice in the cooler. We all piled into the van and then sped up the road towards our grandparents house.

The huge multitude of cars signaled that the whole family had arrived, including the people who'd been invited from the church and the family who'd gathered from as far away as California (if we lived there, we'd definitely not try and make the trip to Indiana).

"Hurry!" squealed Danny. "Hank's already there!"

Hank was my year older cousin, and my twin brothers' favorite cousin. Mostly because he was so tall they could climb all over him like a jungle-gym. We all hopped out, the boys taking the lead and Mom, Darcy, and I with the food and cooler, towards the big victorian house. Smells of delicious food and laughter wafted out from inside the house. There were already lots of people outside, too, some dawdling around the huge tables spread out far and wide on the big green lawn, some on the porch, sitting in chairs and the porch-swings, and even some of the spryer folk up in the big trees that dotted Grandpa's property like huge pieces of broccoli.

We got the food inside as the boys plagued Hank for piggy-back rides. Dad was talking animatedly with his brother, Uncle Matt. They were laughing so hard and Aunt Marie, Matt's wife, was so red, I had to say that they were talking about the time Marie and Matt first met.

"Megan! Darcy! Laney!" Grandma smiled warmly at us as we entered the crowded kitchen.

She took the food and cooler from our hands and told us to enjoy ourselves. Darcy and I fled to the cousins, sometimes this being the first time we'd seen them since the last 4th of July. Finally, Grandpa called us all out onto the big lawn were all the tables were. A huge table was piled high with delicious looking and smelling food.

"Time to sing the Appleseed Song!" he announced.

We all joined our hands in a huge ring that would've stretched all the way around the huge house at least twice. Then, with voices raised, we started our annual song.

"Oh...!
The Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord,
For giving me, the things I need,
The sun and the rain and the appleseed,
The Lord is good to me.
Amen. Amen. Amen, amen, amen.
Ahhhhhh-men."

We all laughed and smiled, and then Grandpa prayed. We all pounced on the food like hungry tigers. After we'd finished there were lots of games, and then we were all off to the Bluff where we'd watch the town's fireworks. They were amazing, as always.

And then we were heading back home. As I snuggled into the covers, I couldn't help but think that this was the most perfect 4th of July of all.

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