Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Fourth of July is first in my book

As most families do, we enjoy holidays. But every family has their holiday. My neighbor now has an Easter egg hunt with little plastic eggs by the hundreds (literally) so much that come June they are still finding them. My in-laws rival that egg number with their Christmas trees, it seems. There is one in every room on every level and in every corner. Growing up, there was a family in my neighborhood that loved Halloween so much that I swear they re-landscaped their yard just so that the dad could put on a scary mask and jump out of some bush and scare the daylights out of us.
But us, we love the Fourth of July. I look forward to it every year and have for as long as I can remember, counting down the days until the fireworks flew. My love for this holiday is genetic or inherited, and I am so proud that my own family has the Fever of the Fourth and totally agree with my adoration for the mid-summer festival.
My husband wasn’t hard to convince. He quickly learned that the #1 best thing about the Fourth of July is that there are no fancy clothes involved. Shorts are required, and button down shirts will only get you laughed at. The most you have to focus on your wardrobe is pulling on a shirt with red, white and/or blue on it and dig around for those hokey flag socks you only wear once a year. You don’t even really have to shower because you’ll be so covered in bug spray that no one will be able to smell anything else.
The second best thing about the Fourth is the food. Most other major holidays, the women (at least in my life) do the cooking. I will churn out at least four pies everything Thanksgiving and dozens of pierogi come Easter, but for the Fourth, there’s minimal work. A tub of potato salad, a can of baked beans, and toss a pack of hot dogs at my husband while the kids are on ketchup and mustard duty, and my work is done.
Even better than the preparation is the clean-up. There are no fancy table settings come the Fourth of July. We get paper plates, plastic silverware, paper napkins. If you’re lucky there’s a red checkered table cloth and if you’re even luckier, you get to sit at the table instead of the famous “picnic style!” I try to convince my kids is more than just eating on the ground. Sometimes there are occasional patriotic decorations, but usually you can put them and take them down in the same time it takes you to unravel one string of Christmas lights.
There are no presents to buy, no presents to wrap, no special bakery, no traveling from family party to family party. The Fourth of July lasts one day, one glorious day, and then, when the day is done, the holiday gets even better.
Fireworks are as magically outstanding as I can think of. There is something so unnatural about them, the way hot, flaming chemicals burn in the sky and form beautiful pictures of weeping willows and sizzling bees. I watch in awe of them, not sure whether I should be in complete silence or hoot and holler for each and every one. (I usually hoot and holler.)
I know fireworks are dangerous. Apparently 9,300 injuries occur every year, with 45% of those being children under 14 years of age. Personally, I still love to run to run through smoke bombs with my kids and write our names with sparklers. Whether or not anyone else chooses to do so, is completely up to them to decide. We’re free do to what we want…
Which reminds me of the last great thing about the Fourth of July: The reason we celebrate.

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