The moment the "what-are-we-cooking-for-the-Fourth?" emails from my brother, sister, mom and dad start pinging like crazy in my inbox -- usually about a week before the holiday -- I know it's time to stake my claim.
"We own Saturday night." I poke on my iPhone as quickly as possible.
Then everyone else starts claiming meals - I'll make pancakes that morning for the kids; I'll do burgers and dogs for Sunday dinner; I'll bring smores stuff. You get the idea.
It's important for me to claim Saturday night because it's the one big summer feast that my husband Andy and I look forward to making all year. My sister's beach house, where the dinner takes place, is a mile from the ocean, and more important, a quick drive away from a fish purveyor whose backyard is Shinnecock Bay as well as a few excellent butchers. It's never just the family either - what starts as about a dozen of us turns into twice that before we know it. So the week or two leading up to the big night, Andy and I treat dinners with our daughters almost like auditions. What's it going to be? What's going to make the cut?
We'll keep you posted as soon as we've made our decision.