Happy Birthday, America! On July 4, 1776, America declared its independence from England, and since that time Americans have had reason to celebrate, although from time to time I’m not sure if everybody knows what it is they are celebrating. Remember, it is a day to celebrate America, so if you don’t do it already, get out the flag and fly it.

Flying the flag is an important part of the day and it looks good on every home and building. If you leave your flag out all the time it should be illuminated at night-oops, we don’t do that. If the weather is inclement it should be taken down, so if it rains go out and get it (Husband Joe’s job; I’m too short to reach it). If your flag gets worn and tattered, you should dispose of it responsibly. Bunting looks good, so maybe try lots of bunting on your homes or buildings. You can also do bows in red, white and blue, but bunting is best. So much for the decorating.

I thought maybe this year I would want to make the menu a little different, so to the Web I went. There I found in bold letters, “Burgers and brats.” Now that’s original. So, I moved on to the desserts.

Here it was?”a cake in the shape of the United States. It was lovely to look at, but too much work. If I made something like that, I would not let anyone eat it, only look at it. There was also a pie. Don’t know exactly what kind, but it was red, white and blue through the help of strawberries, blueberries and Cool Whip.

There were cookies made to look like firecrackers and cupcakes in paper holiday cups decorated with frosting tinted in patriotic colors with sprinkles. Now the cupcakes looked easy, particularly if I were to use a cake mix. And what is more fun than watching a group of adults going around with red and blue teeth from eating cupcakes? Yuck!

Without dismissing the cupcakes entirely, I will have to make my United States Jell-O mold, which is easy to make, but hard to get out of the mold. I usually try to enlist the help of a Martha Stewart-type to do the job, since I have the problem of trying to keep all the states united. On many a July 4, there have been a few states to secede from the mold. I always admire someone who can make a good gelatin mold and get it out of the mold intact.

So you eat and drink (responsibly of course) and settle in to watch fireworks. It intrigues me to know that many of those involved in pyrotechnics are Italian?”and you thought we were just good at cooking, making wine, and art. I never quite understood why anyone would want the job. One would think the insurance premiums have to be high, to say nothing of the fear factor. Better to leave it to the professionals. By far, the best fireworks display in our area comes to us courtesy of North Riverside. Their displays have become better each year with more of the “pretty” fireworks than the “boom” fireworks.

So get out your red, white, and blue, display the flag proudly, go see a parade, get together with friends, grill the burgers and brats, have the potato salad (American style of course), enjoy the patriotic decorated dessert but most of all be glad we have the freedom to celebrate the day the way we like to.

Stay safe and remember leave the fireworks to the professionals.