Families celebrate by honoring God, country

Families celebrate by honoring God, country

By Carolyn Tomlin
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

A recent report estimates more than 43 million Americans will travel during the Fourth of July holiday. Whether your family plans to journey to other areas or plans a stay-at-home Alabama holiday, these educational, fun and creative activities will make this a time to remember. Celebrate family, faith and patriotic community events this Independence Day.

• Worship together as a family on July 2, the Sunday before Independence Day. Whether you worship in a small Alabama Baptist church or a large one, plan a “pack-a-pew” day for your congregation with your group. As many relatives gather for family reunions, set an example to the younger generation that attending church is a priority with your clan.

• Salute the Christian flag as well as the American flag. Check with your pastor in advance for this part of the service. Teach children the words to this salutation. If a Christian flag is not available, ask if your family can donate one for the church. Perhaps this could be given in memory or in honor of a beloved relative. Teach that as Christians, we pledge our alliance first to God, then to our country. Both pledges can be found at www.christianhomeschoolers.com/christian_pledges.html.

• Plan a Fourth of July parade. Do you live near a nursing home or assisted living facility? If so, ask parents in your church to bring their child and tricycle, bicycle or stroller to the parking lot. Or you could use a paved area of the church grounds. Decorate the vehicle in patriotic colors with crepe paper streamers. Dress children in the traditional red, white and blue. Give out small American flags for children to wave. Include dogs, on a leash of course.

• Attend a patriotic music event in your community. Many small towns in Alabama sponsor community choirs that perform patriotic music on Independence Day. These events provide interaction with other denominations and a time of fellowship with other Christians. Enjoy the great hymns that encourage love of God and country. Hopefully, the march music of John Philip Sousa will be part of the program. Dress your family in patriotic colors of red, white and blue. If the program is outside, you may be able to bring a picnic basket and lawn chairs or a blanket for seating on the ground. Events are usually free.

• Plan an old-fashioned family picnic. Ask an older member of your family how they observed the Fourth of July. Chances are they included family and church picnics. Food probably consisted of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, slices of cold watermelon, hand-squeezed lemonade in gallon containers with hand-chipped ice and homemade ice cream made in a hand-cranked freezer.

• Participate in games and activities from another era. Put away the latest technology and interact with your clan in games of yesterday. Pitch horse shoes, throw washers (available at a building supply store), set up a badminton court, play tug-of-war and play “I Spy.” If no one remembers the rules, Google the term — a concession to using technology for the day.

• Visit a pioneer or early American village. Check with Alabama tourism for places across the state. Before you visit, talk with your children about how life has changed since the first celebrations of the day. However, the “family” has the same needs as years ago. We need to love and respect each member, honor God and be grateful to live in America. Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”


Patriotic mini-dessert

Guide your child to create a red-white-blue dessert all the family will enjoy. Pack vanilla ice cream into muffin liners. Top with fresh strawberries and blueberries. This recipe serves four.


1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
Whipped topping
Muffin liners


Wash and remove caps from strawberries. Children can use a plastic knife. Slice, if berries are large. Place 4 muffin liners on a plate. Scoop ¼ cup ice cream in each. (Return to freezer if not ready to serve.) Top each with strawberries and blueberries. Add a dollop of whipped cream to complete the dessert.

*Hint: Place muffin liners in a Mason jar lid ring for support when filling with ice cream.