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pack a picnic and head to the beach, it's the 4th of july!

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My entire family comes to Amagansett for the week of July 4th, a tradition since we bought our house nearly nine years ago. There are 16 of us crammed in our place—my parents, two sisters with their husbands and six kids between them—but that makes it even more fun! Despite older cousins getting busier with sports, camps, and more over the years, everyone still makes the commitment to this week. It's family and it's tradition. For dinner, we always do a clam bake on the beach, usually at Atlantic Beach in Amagansett because the kids absolutely love to jump off the lifeguard stands! We've always ordered from Claws on Wheels in East Hampton (now sadly closed, you'll find Peter Ambrose Catering in the former space offering up similar fare)—delicious clams and mussels in white wine sauce, corn on the cob, and lobsters, then watermelon and key lime pie. We also make burgers and dogs at home for the kiddies who don't like lobster, and for my little Sadie who is allergic. This meal is such a treat and everyone looks forward to it! We try to do this around 5pm, so we can get back to the house in time to relax and get ready for the fireworks, which is always a spectacular show! We take carloads a half-mile away to the beach at Devon Yacht Club where we set up blankets and a few chairs for the grown ups. We're sure to load up on glow necklaces. I have the best memories of my girls laying with their heads in my lap in the sand, looking up at the sky, and talking about which fireworks are our favorite. As we walk back to our car, we talk about the meaning of the 4th and all the service men and women who are overseas protecting our freedom, recognizing the sacrifice that they and their families make. I come from a military family—my dad Air Force, my step dad Army, my husband a former Marine—and have tremendous pride and respect for our Armed Forces. Tip: Use strawberries and blueberries for a shortcake to add to the red, white, and blue festivities. After we get back to the house, we have a delicious strawberry shortcake my friend Anick made once. I try to duplicate it, but it's never quite as good as hers. And we play with sparklers! My family always brings lots of boxes of sparklers and fun. Remember spelling your name with the sparkler? It's something we should never stop doing.

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