How do I explain the Fourth of July to 3-year-old Sweetpea?

If we still lived in America, I would just let the holiday speak for itself. Parades and flags and watermelon. Fireflies and sparklers and fireworks.

But that’s not possible here in England. And a history lesson is out, too: Three is just too young for the story of the Declaration of Independence. Besides, I want her to know something about the other sides of the Fourth, too, the ones I knew as a kid — that marching-band-cotton-candy excitement, that ice-cream-on-a-picnic-blanket-at-twilight anticipation.

What to do, what to do?

When in doubt, bake a cake.

A birthday cake.

We lit a candle and sang “Happy Birthday America” and listened to this fabulous rendition of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” on pipe organ:

All of which made a joyful impression on Sweetpea.

I think we may have started a new tradition.