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When I was a child growing up on the farm, our holidays were all spent in a traditional fashion, except Independence Day. The Fourth of July was usually spent in the field as we harvested the crops. And, unfortunately but understandably, firecrackers were forbidden in the hot Kansas wind and near the ripe, golden wheat fields.
We always celebrated with a special meal, though. I would help Mother take sandwiches, pie and fruit punch to the field at noon on regular days, but for the Fourth of July, she went all out. Her special menu always included fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, buttered corn on the cob, fresh tomato slices, hot rolls, apple pie and lemonade.
One Independence Day, though, it rained so much that we were unable to get into the fields, and our dad surprised us kids. He went to town and brought home the first firecrackers I’d ever seen. I could hardly wait until evening when our guests – family, hired hands and neighbors – would arrive and gather around the backyard to watch the fireworks display.
As any 8-year-old would do, I totally forgot to put my pet rooster away. My rooster was the type that always picked up whatever anyone dropped on the ground. So, as the first lit firecracker was thrown out, there he was, in all his white-feathered splendor, racing toward it. Everyone sat in silent suspense as it became apparent what was happening.
The firecracker exploded just as my rooster was about to pick it up. He flew up into the air, feathers flying, then landed on the ground with a thump. For a few seconds he sat stunned and ruffled. Then he rose to his feet, a little unsteadily at first, and made a beeline for the henhouse. After hiding out for several days, he cautiously made his way out into the barnyard again, although not with all the impulsive curiosity he once had.
That Fourth of July when our family celebrated in traditional holiday fashion was untraditional for us – and unforgettable.
Mary Ann - Salina, Kansas
Letter From Santa was Unexpected
When my siblings and I were growing up, times were hard. Christmas was a special time for our family, but with five children to raise during the depression and war years, there were very few gifts under our tree.
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