Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.
Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as the Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard, and The Birdhouse in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.
Celebrating the 4th of July
by Laura Hilton
As Independence Day approaches, our family starts making plans. There are local traditions that happen every year… and some we don’t participate in, but others do.
The Lions Club starts the day with a pancake breakfast. We generally don’t go to this. Many in the area do.
The parade, starting at 10 a.m. down the highway going through our small town. Sometimes the parade is super small, not worth the time, but other years it’s great with horses, bikes, ATVs, antique cars, floats, marching bands, Veterans, and of course the County Queen, the police, firefighters, and rescue workers all making an appearance. So do golfers, with decorated carts. The people in the parade throw candy for the children along the route. My little ones go with plastic bags they collect the candy in, and it’s a big source of excitement as they sort through what they get. Since it’s July, and very hot in the South, there is hardly ever any chocolate. If there is, it doesn’t last very long in the heat!
As the children get older, they enjoyed riding in the parade. That is always a treat. So far they’ve ridden in church floats, the garden club float, and the boating club. One of my sons decorated his bicycle and rode that in the parade with other kids.
There are vendors around, a pet show, and bouncy toys, plus hotdogs, funnel cakes, and drinks for those who want to hang around. A band plays in the gazebo and that night there will be a street dance.
The children (and those of us “young at heart”) enjoy getting re-acquainted with friends we haven’t seen for awhile, as they live in neighboring towns. We get to visit with former church members, classmates and friends, and neighbors.
Immediately following the parade one of the churches has an ice-cream social. One of the favorite treats is root-beer floats. They also have pie a la mode and sundaes.
Airplanes fly in and out of the town landing strip all day, taking people on plane rides in the Cessnas and other small craft. Owners of pontoon boats take people on rides around the lake, and waterskiing is popular.
Most of my family usually heads home after the parade for brats and hotdogs cooked on our grill with corn on the cob, baked beans, and watermelon, then it’s off to the pool for several hours. That evening around dusk we head to the golf course to see the fireworks, and come home and enjoy God’s second show of “fireworks” displayed by the lightening bugs (aka fireflies). The children try to catch them in a jar—but we practice catch and release after they get so many (or beforehand, if they have a bad catching night.)
My husband likes to take a couple hours and go fishing, if he isn’t scheduled to work that day. And as a Veteran of the United States Navy, he has his own traditions. He insists upon reminding anyone and everyone what Independence Day is really about. He waxes sentimental, reminiscing upon his “Navy Days,” even though he never fired a shot in anger, nor was he ever active in combat. He tries to read the historical documents that are foundational to the freedoms that we enjoy: The Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. And he insists upon a special time of prayer, thanking the One who made all of this possible.
The Amish, whom I write about, celebrate in different ways—depending on the family and the Ordnung where they live. They generally don’t go to parades (some might). Some families treat it as a normal day, with business as usual and nothing special happening. Other families have celebrations with relatives coming over, large carry-in dinners, and volleyball for the teens. Some families buy small firecrackers, such as sparklers or pop-its and snappers, to play with. Like us, they enjoy fireworks and God’s firefly display and their children try to catch the lightning bugs, too.
How do you celebrate Independence Day? Do you have any special traditions with your family or community events?
David Lapp (from Promised to Another) survived a “code blue” when he was in a buggy/semi truck accident in Seymour, Missouri. Now after extensive therapy he has lingering mobility problems and is still struggling to find his place in the world. Lured away from Webster County by thoughts of closed buggies and a postcard friendship he’s developed with an Amish girl in Jamesport, he moves north, hoping for a fresh start. He finds temporary work in the area teaching school, and also makes fishing flies and weaves baskets. He sells his products in the Amish markets in the Jamesport area.
Rachel Miller dreams of travel, but feels tied to her Amish life. She is being courted by Mark Graber, but wonders if there’s more to life. When she sees David’s name mentioned in The Budget, she strikes up a pen pal friendship with David while he’s in the hospital and in therapy, consoling him when he and his girlfriend part ways. She never dreams that David will come north and move into her community. David is still fearful in the buggy, especially in high traffic areas. Feeling he’s called by God to preach, David spends hours in the Bible, but the Amish discourage him, believing their ministers should be drawn by lot. Will David follow his call, even if it takes him out of the Amish church? Will Rachel realize her dream to travel?
You can purchase The PostCard at this link.