Dear Dr. Debbie,
Like everything else during this pandemic, our family has resigned ourselves to altered plans for the Fourth of July.
No parades of patriotic marching bands. No picnic potlucks with friends and extended family. No crowded fireworks displays. Please help with some suggestions for a much modified national holiday this year.
Yankee Doodle Daddy
Let’s get to the core of the celebration.
Use a map to help chronicle the birth of these United States. The first people here were of course the indigenous tribes that had lived in North America for thousands of years. Explorers from Europe were followed by colonists from England, establishing themselves along the east coast. About two hundred years and thirteen colonies later, King George III decided to tax the colonists (to recoup financial losses after a war with France) which incited a rebellion, a Declaration of Independence, and a war. Although the war began on July 4, 1776, we are really celebrating the successful end of the war. Negotiations to end the War of Independence were held in Paris, France, between representatives for the king and the revolutionists. On January 14, 1784, the signed Treaty of Paris was brought back to Annapolis to be ratified by the Congress of the 13 new states.
Being housebound for this holiday is a great reason to get a front row seat on your family couch to watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” (on Disney plus).
Your family may have Independence Day traditions for picnicking or backyard barbecuing with people you will be missing while socially distant. Why not schedule a short video conference to share images of each other’s culinary undertakings with your extended family members and friends? Or share pictures of your family’s holiday meal on social media.
Since everything during this pandemic seems out of the ordinary anyway, this might be a good year to connect with more ancient traditions. Fried green tomatoes, pine nut catfish, pemmican, and succotash are dishes that incorporate indigenous foods long enjoyed in this land.
If your family members are old enough to chew it (and not currently restricted by an orthodontist), you can enjoy the Native American food that explodes like fireworks. Popcorn has been around for at least 6,700 years throughout the Americas, enjoyed by the Aztecs out west, the Incas as far south as Peru, and as far north as the Iroquois around the Great Lakes region.
How many people do you need for a parade? One spirited toddler is enough! Make an historical record of your family’s safer-at-home festivities with a video of her carrying an appropriately-sized flag to a John Philip Souza march. Older children can get crafty with homemade versions of the various U.S. flags through history and learn proper flag etiquette.
If your family members are big fans of fireworks you can easily find colorful displays to watch on the screen just before bedtime. But if it’s the popping you’re passionate about, add some poppers to your plans.
You can make poppers with sturdy paper cups and rubber (or latex) balloons. Cut the bottoms out of the cups; cut the tops off of the balloons; and slide the cut side of a balloon onto the bottom of each cup. Tie a knot as you would if you had blown up the balloon. The knot will be what you “pop” with. Think about where you will pop your poppers to determine what tiny items to fill them with. If you’ll be outside, fill your poppers with birdseed or popcorn to share with the wildlife. If you’re popping inside, decide what your vacuum can handle. Note, hole punches can make colorful confetti out of construction paper. This would be far less of a danger to eyes than puffs of glitter would be.
As long as you are careful to pick up all the broken bits afterwards, literally popping balloons can be added to your plans as a fun (and noisy) activity. So many ways to pop a balloon! With your family’s safety in mind, choose among: sit on it, step on it, fill it with water and throw it at a tree, or poke it with a dart.
A broken balloon is actually one of the materials needed for a noise making popper, also known as a thumb drum. Secure the piece of balloon onto an empty prescription bottle with a rubber band. Be sure to stretch the balloon piece as “tight as a drum.” Use your thumb and forefinger to “pinch” the balloon. “Pop!”
Current events have many of us thinking about the state of our country. A national emergency is still in place due to the threat of COVID-19. New information about the virus keeps coming out, amidst controversy about which course of action is best. Foremost in the minds of many families are the uncertainties for how the next school year will roll out. The anti-racism movement is bringing more energy to the Black Lives Matter movement with a real hope that solidarity can achieve long-needed changes. And then there is the matter of a presidential election on the not too distant horizon.
Put some thought into what your family is celebrating this year. Maybe it’s simply having a day to focus on doing something fun together and for each other. That’s part of the job of a family. As President Harry S. Truman said, “America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”
Have a joyful, if different than usual, Independence Day.
Deborah Wood, Ph.D. is a child development specialist with degrees in Early Childhood Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Workshops for parents, teachers, and childcare professionals can be found at: drdebbiewood.com.
Dr. Wood is conducting an online workshop “Little Kids at Hope” for parents and caregivers of children from birth to age five on Saturday, July 11. Register with Chesapeake Children’s Museum: 410-990-1993 or www.theccm.org.
Click here for more parenting advice by Debbie Wood.
What do you think? Email your comments or questions to Dr. Debbie at editor[at]chesapeakefamily.com