Michaeline: Fourth of July

Older ladies sitting in the shade with their shoes off while others wade in the lake.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the Fourth of July — being with good friends in the summer heat, and just kicking off your shoes and relaxing in the shade. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

For Americans in the reading audience, Happy Fourth of July (fraught with meaning)! For non-Americans, Happy Fourth of July (random day, so why not be happy?).

I love the Fourth of July. It’s the day that the Continental Congress declared they were no longer subject to George III, and it’s smack in the middle of the long summer holidays from school that in my case lasted from the end of May to the end of August. My family had picnics, and sometimes family reunions, and always, always, always fireworks. There’s a streak of pyromania that runs in both sides of the family DNA, and we enjoyed setting off the mild fireworks that Nebraska allowed, then going to see the big fireworks down by the pond.

Things are different here in Japan. Fireworks are on sale, but aren’t really a big deal until mid-August in Hokkaido. The first of the summer fireworks shows start at the end of July. At any rate, much as I love fireworks, the dogs and the cows hate them, and they outvote me on this. We might do a smoke bomb or two or some wee sparklers, but that’s it at home.

Menu ideas for the fourth of July with an explanation of what the Fourth of July is. There is no "Republican," no "Democrat," on the Fourth of July -- all are Americans.

Here’s what an ideal Fourth of July looked like long ago — fried chicken for breakfast! And, “(t)here is no “Republican,” no “Democrat,” on the Fourth of July — all are Americans.” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Back in Nebraska, being in the middle of summer vacations, Fourth of July wasn’t what you’d call an intellectual celebration. Oh, you learned stuff, that was sure. Fireworks are full of science and physics, and also about responsibility for your actions and consequences. Very educational, that. And of course, the mayonnaise-based salads could provide a health lesson, but my mom was very much in favor of lecture mode vs. the school of hard knocks (major concentration in food poisoning), and we never suffered from that.

This year might mean the smartest thing to do is stay home. My hometown had plenty of parking, and a lot of room on a wide, grassy hill, so maybe they’ll have a safe, socially distanced fireworks display. People could probably park at the old drive-in theater (if it’s still undeveloped) and enjoy the whole show from their cars and never leave the bubble.

But not every town has that sort of space (or small population). It’ll be interesting to see what kind of new traditions evolve to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Originally, I was going to write a whole blog post full of suggestions for a fun and educational Fourth. Watch a movie! Read some books! Play History Charades! Enjoy a traditional meal from your family’s heritage – because they were the people who helped build America. Enjoy a traditional side-dish from someone else’s heritage, because they made America the country it is today. Set an alert on your calendar for the next business day to make sure you are registered to vote, and to apply for an absentee ballot if you need one (you might really need one this year).

But then, I thought, who am I kidding? It’s the middle of summer. I’m going to arrange some flowers, have hot dogs for supper, set the alert on my calendar, and call it good. That’s probably good enough.

8 thoughts on “Michaeline: Fourth of July

  1. Because there are so few big public displays of fireworks this year, a lot of my neighbors have (illegally) purchased demonstration grade fireworks and have been setting them off at home. It’s the first time I’ve been glad I don’t currently have a dog.

  2. When I was a kid, my family lived 20 miles from the nearest fireworks display. Occasionally we went, but usually we stayed home, had a barbecue, and lit sparklers. I loved sparklers.

    This year, although there will be many fewer (I hope) fireworks displays than in past years, there will be a big one at Mt. Rushmore, the stupidest monument in America, and fire crews will be on standby to fight any consequent wildfires from random sparks. So we have a stupid leader at a stupid monument. Perfect.

    ETA: Did you read that menu for the day! Talk about three big, heavy meals. It’s hard to imagine cooking, much less eating, like that.

    • Sparklers were one of my favorites, too! That, and smoke bombs. And the hen that laid eggs and whistled (when we could find it).

      Mt. Rushmore was so much; it seems like it’s been almost four years of asking “Why? Why? Why?” and not getting any good answers.

      LOL, I did read the menu. Fried chicken for breakfast! I didn’t ever dream that was an American breakfast thing. Maybe they had to walk in the parade or something.

  3. After the one year I saw a magnificent fireworks display in France for Bastille Day and then a grand New Year’s Eve fireworks display in Disneyland, my intereste in fireworks has waned. Plus, they upset the pets.

    As a kid I loved sparklers and wish they still were legal. I remember standing in my friend’s backyard, each of us with a bucket of water at our feet (in case of emergency), waving our sparklers around and being mesmerized.

    Ah well This year I’m hoping enough people show enough common sense not to set off a huge Covid outbreak (though judging from the whole Mt. Rushmore thing, that’s wishful thinking). I guess we’ll know the answer to that in about 2 weeks.

    Happy safe and socially distant 4th to all

    • The Covid prevention squad just really seems to be out to lunch in the US. I am so sorry to hear the numbers every day on the news.

      I think our fireworks might be cancelled this year. What with the cost of Corona, and then all the flooding and what-not down South, sponsors might decide to forgo funding the two big fireworks shows here (one of those shows is Japan-famous, and brings people from all over the country — which is exactly what we DON’T want this year). They usually take place in mid-August.

      We can still get ahold of a few sparklers, though! We always had a bucket to put the burnt out wires into. It helped prevent fires, and made clean-up the next morning a bit easier. I remember we always had to do them in the driveway, and leave them out overnight before picking up the ones that were set off on the ground. Just in case any “duds” decided to spontaneously combust.

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