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.
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.