I pulled out my new favorite strawberry punch recipe a couple of days ago — the recipe I was saving for this year’s celebration of Juneteenth.

With fresh strawberries, strawberry syrup, and splashes of dark rum, orange liqueur and sparkling wine, the recipe for this adult beverage is a huge upgrade from the Juneteenth red drinks of my youth: Fanta’s fizzy strawberry soda or the ubiquitous Black cultural staple red Kool-Aid. I gleefully gulped down plenty of the soda and Kool-Aid long before I knew the drink and its color held historical and cultural significance for Juneteenth.

Juneteenth became the 11th federal holiday when President Joe Biden made the Congressional legislation official three years ago. Back in June 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver another official order: General Order #3, declaring “all slaves are free.”

It was June 19, forever dubbed Juneteenth by the newly freed men, women and children.

Granger’s announcement came two and half years after enslavers intentionally fled with their human property to Texas and other nearby Confederate territories to escape emancipation enforcement.

Two and half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Two months earlier, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered. The enslaved, who worked without pay and under brutal conditions, knew they were free but also knew that without the enforcement of the law, they were trapped.

Nevertheless, Granger’s order was staggering to the 250,000 people now free to build their own lives.

There was deep relief and boundless joy.

They gathered together in prayer, and celebration, preparing foods they cobbled together from slavery’s scraps and plants and herbs grown nearby.

In Galveston, Texas, hibiscus, a red flowering plant that grows easily in hot climates, was readily available. The celebrants made the original red drink by extracting the red juice from the crushed flowers and sweetening it with sugar or honey.

Decades later the annual local Texas-based Juneteenth celebrations spread to other states. The color red took on a new symbolism representing the blood of the ancestors. Now, an array of red foods like red rice, red-sauced barbecue and red velvet cake grace many Juneteenth tables.

My first Juneteenth buffet included gumbo rich with seafood and spicy sausage because my Louisiana relatives laid out the feast. These days Juneteenth tables groan under the weight of homemade soul food favorites, like the collard greens and yams the enslaved reimagined from Africa.

I continue to worry about losing the familial spirit of the Juneteenth observances — the small parades, history conversations, and food gatherings steeped in the joy of African American culture.

But I’ve also been thinking about the lyrics of the gospel song “The Welcome Table” adapted to capture an inclusive spirit, as in, “We’re going to sit at the welcome table.”

The Welcome Table envisioned a life beyond bondage to a time when “all God’s children would sit together” and feast on “milk and honey.”

Very little seems welcoming right now but I’m pushing that aside in memory of those who survived to claim their Jubilee Joy.

Happy Juneteenth. And pass the red drink.