Days before this Fourth of July, I realized that I had not made any plans to commemorate our country’s independence and, even worse, I had no idea of what I was going to do to rectify the problem. Usually I go to a family or friends of family barbecue and shoot off fireworks, as do many Americans, but this year I realized that a similar scenario was going to be difficult to find in New York City.

In an effort to remedy my plan-less situation, I called my cousin, Gage Parker, for advice. Gage is 8.

I was surprised at how much Gage knew about America’s independence. He knew that July Fourth marks the anniversary of America becoming an independent state (with the signing of the Declaration of Independence) and thus freed from British rule as a result of winning the Revolutionary War. He knew that there were severe casualties in the war. He also knew that on the Fourth of July we "shoot a bunch of fireworks because we’re celebrating" and that the definition of freedom is "not having someone telling you what to do, like Mom."

However, Gage was nearly as stumped as I was for how I should celebrate this Independence Day.

He racked his brain, but the best suggestion that he (or I) could come up with was to "spend it with friends … maybe you could visit the giant park and shoot some fireworks there. You could go to a hotel and spend the night. That’d be fun."

He also thought that I should eat hamburgers because he "loves hamburgers."

Although it would be fun, I didn’t think that Central Park would let me shoot off any fireworks or that I could afford a hotel in New York City. But I was able to follow the rest of Gage’s advice and made plans to spend July Fourth with my friends, eating hamburgers in my apartment, rambunctiously celebrating our freedom — specifically because there was no one to tell us what to do, like Mom.

Sarah Brady Stack, a former Central Arkansas resident who lives in Manhattan, works for a New York publishing house. E-mail her at