Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The 4th of July

When it comes to holidays, I have a tried and true favorite – the 4th of July. Stick around for a minute, and I’ll explain why.
First up, let’s talk about gift giving. Holidays like Christmas, Chanukah, and birthdays (our own personal holidays) all require gift giving. Now, of course, gift giving is intended to be a joyful process of expressing our love through the sharing of significant tokens of our affection. For some of us, this may be a wonderful and creative process, like making jewelry, knitting scarves, or building a birdhouse. Others enjoy the process of shopping, tapping into our shared heritage as hunter-gatherers, seeking and finding just the right something for that special someone. In the interest of being fully up front, most of the time, I fall into that category. However, I know that for many others, shopping is nothing short of painful, torture, a legal form of consumer water-boarding. I have one relative who abhors the idea so much, it brings about nervous shakes just thinking of hours of foot-numbing treks through stores one would never visit on a normal day, or carpal tunnel inducing eons of clicking away online. For those folks, I point out one sublime fact - there are no gifts required for the 4th of July. Aaahhh. Can’t you just feel the sigh of relief?
Now let’s talk about food. So many of the more complicated holidays require cooking. Not cooking for fun, which is, well, fun - but compulsory cooking. This entrée must be served, it’s a family tradition, we always have that, it takes all day and is worth every moment, things just wouldn’t be the same without it – that kind of cooking. The 4th of July skirts around weighty historic and religious traditions involving the cooking of copious amounts of mostly meats and sweets. On the 4th of July we celebrate freedom, and you have the freedom to choose to cook for fun, or not to cook at all. Sweet! Maybe you will freely choose to contribute a watermelon to the neighborhood cookout, or you enjoy grilling with all the works. But the important thing is, it’s your choice, and yet another reason to love the 4th of July.
Now, let’s talk dates and events. Whereas some holidays occur on the nth day of whatever month each year, no matter what the actual date, some others are honored in a floating fashion with dating systems dictated by ancient methods known to only a select few. Needless to say, I’m not one of those few, are you? Just to add to the confusion, some holidays actually occur on one day, but are celebrated on another. But the day for celebrating American independence is on the 4th of July, occurring on the 4th day of the seventh month, every year, never fails. It’s simple, it’s straight forward, and I like it. Likewise, the 4th remains accessible and uncomplicated because there are no mandatory events on the 4th of July. If you want to do a get-together with family or friends, that’s cool. If you’d rather sit at home and watch fireworks on the tube, that’s cool, too. If you want to travel to a major city, and see a concert followed by the big boomers, go for it. If you’d rather go for a walk in the warm evening air and then hit the sack, more power to ya. No requirements, no expectations, do it your way and have a good time, that’s why I like the 4th of July.
Now, let’s finish off with one brief moment touching on the deeper meaning of Independence Day. All my simple and mundane reasons for loving the 4th of July are rooted in one universal and yet singular ideal – freedom. Regardless of our religious beliefs or political preferences, we can all get on board to participate in a day that celebrates life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What’s not to like? So, here’s hoping everyone will have a fun and relaxing 4th of July. Come what may, I know I will.

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