Celebrating the Fourth of July Outdoors

The #pandemic is subsiding in most parts of the country, mostly thanks to a vigorous push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible. But you may still wish celebrate Independence Day outdoors this weekend.

The pandemic pushed people to take more of their activities outdoors over the last 18 months since the virus is difficult to transmit in open, well-ventilated areas. And there’s no reason to stop enjoying the outdoors — and the summer sun — now!

You may opt to get together with friends and family over a cookout or at the pool to observe the nation’s 244th birthday over the long weekend. Any or all of these options will now be relatively safe if you continue to take common-sense precautions.

The World Health Organization advises that even fully vaccinated people wear masks and practice other preventive measures such as hand-washing and social distancing to discourage the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Most people will be eager to see a parade and fireworks display since so many were canceled in 2020. Leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals, however — with record temperatures throughout the western half of the country, the risk of fire is substantial.

What’s more, pets and veterans alike may be traumatized by fireworks, says American Humane. The boom and bombast of ceremonial fireworks isn’t much different from live ammunition when you suffer from #PTSD.

Veterans’ groups will participate in Independence Day events throughout the country, however, appearing at parades and festivals. Many will feature fundraising for veterans’ causes, and all offer locals the opportunity to #thankaveteran personally.

If you have time, visit one of the country’s many state and national parks. More people have embraced hiking and camping during the pandemic, and there is probably no better or healthier way to see “America the Beautiful” up close.

Whatever you choose to do over the long weekend, try to get outside and celebrate the nation’s birthday safely. The pandemic is not yet over, but the good weather will end before you know it.


Make Memories This Valentine’s Day

Instead of buying things for Valentine’s Day, do things with the special people in your life. Shared experiences create memories and deepen relationships. Try volunteering with a nonprofit together, creating a memory book to collect mementoes of the times you’ve shared, or making time to engage in uninterrupted, one-on-one conversation. “Don’t fall victim to the prefabricated crutch of hackneyed floral arrangements and ill-advised, gigantic stuffed bears,” Frugalwoods says. “Instead, seek authentic intimacy with your partner, your family [and] your close friends.”

Get Ready To Celebrate Veterans Day

This weekend, the United States will celebrate its 99th Veterans Day. President Woodrow Wilson initiated the tradition on the first anniversary of the end of The Great War (as World War I was known at the time), naming Nov. 11 Armistice Day. It was marked by a feeling of “solemn pride” for the military’s heroism, according to Newsweek, and was to be celebrated with parades and two minutes of reflection. Armistice Day became a legal holiday in 1938, and was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to recognize those who served in World War II and the Korean War.

Make a Dish to Pass for Memorial Day

Have you been invited to a Memorial Day cookout and need a dish to pass? Food & Wine has 10 suggestions for elevated, crowd-pleasing sides that travel well. Watermelon salad with mint and feta, green bean slaw and Thai cucumber salad offer refreshing light bites for the year’s first hot days, while apple pie bars and walnut brownies will round out the cookout. If you prefer to indulge with traditional comfort classics, make a potato salad or deviled eggs, but be safe — don’t leave those dishes to bake in the sun and risk a case of food poisoning.

Why Corned Beef and Cabbage?

Corned beef and cabbage is the traditional dish to serve on St. Patrick’s Day, although like many ethnicities’ signatures dishes, it probably developed among early immigrants who were making their way in the New World. Regardless, the simple, hearty meal is a great one to share among family and friends. If you don’t want your house to take on that distinctive odor, however, many veterans’ organizations serve corned beef and cabbage annually to support those who have served.