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Memorial Day Show of Patriotism: Red, White, and Blue Salad

In the word association game, if you said “patriotic holidays,” I’d respond with “Old Navy.” When I was younger, Old Navy made t-shirts every summer that had American flags with “Summer 19xx” scripted beneath the waving flag. The shirts were sold throughout the summer, so your kids could be patriotically attired from Memorial Day to July 4th on to Labor Day.

Most summers, my extended family takes a vacation together. We’re a small family, but the five grandchildren are within five years of each other. When you have five kids between the ages of, say, eight and thirteen in close quarters for a week, it is easy to think there are far more than five cranky, screaming preteens in your midst. But my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, were somehow able to mentally and emotionally survive the experiences year after year. Whenever the vacations fell during the Memorial Day or July 4th, all five of us were bedecked in matching Old Navy American flag t-shirts.

Those days were no one’s best fashion moments. Personally, I’m happy to forget pictures of me in inches-thick glasses, my brother’s hand-me-down soccer shorts, and one of those shirts. But they are wonderful memories with my grandparents and cousins. Not to reminisce too much as a 22-year-old, but life does speed up when you get older, and it has now been three years since we were all together.

This week, however, all together, we have celebrated my younger cousin’s college graduation, and this weekend, we will celebrate his older brother’s wedding. While no one will be wearing Old Navy tees and everyone will, hopefully, be much less feisty than during our childhood vacations, we will be together again for Memorial Day. And it is always a blessing to make new memories with the whole family together.

For a slightly more fashionable display of patriotism this weekend, always opt for food:

Red, White, and Blue Salad
Courtesy of my mother

1 cup slivered almonds
7 tbs sugar, divided
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp Tobasco
3 tbs white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
8 cups salad
½ pint blueberries
1 cup sliced strawberries
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

In a cast iron skillet over high heat, cook almonds and 4 tablespoons sugar, stirring constantly. When almonds are coated in syrup and light brown, remove from skillet and place on a piece of aluminum foil. Once cool, break into small pieces.

In a measuring cup, combine remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, Tobasco, vinegar, and oil. Whisk to combine.

Add all salad ingredients to a salad bowl, add salad dressing, and toss.

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