It’s the best holiday of the year – my favorite. And not just because you get to eat ice cream at lunch and roasted marshmallows after dark – although that clearly has something to do with it. Christmas and birthday fans might think the Fourth of July is an unusual choice for a preferred holiday, but I have my reasons. Six of them, in fact.
Reason number six – freedom to eat. Whether it’s turkey with stuffing, cake with candles, black-eyed peas, a pumpkin filled with miniature candy bars or chocolate bunnies with their ears bitten off, holidays are all about the edibles. Independence Day is chock full of eating opportunities of the best kind – corn on the cob, watermelon, baked beans, hamburgers and hot dogs – simple fare that’s easy to make and tastes good going down. Best of all, most of it can be prepared and eaten outdoors. Who doesn’t love a picnic?
Which leads me to reason number five – freedom to enjoy the weather. Most other holidays – New Year’s Day, Ground Hog’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday and even my birthday – fall during the colder-weather months. If I want to spend the day outside in the sun next to a lake that isn’t frozen – well, then the Fourth of July is clearly my best option.
Reason number four – freedom to enjoy the people. If you’re going to spend a day outdoors eating too much good food, you might as well do it with people you enjoy. Independence Day allows you this independence. Other holidays come with expectations of enduring Uncle Frank’s infamous pull-my-finger prank and eating Aunt Frieda’s special green bean casserole – again. Lots of families spend the Fourth together – because they want to. That’s how a holiday should be. Fun.
Reason number three – freedom to have fun. You watch a parade by day and a fireworks-filled sky by night. In between there might be sack races, the Star Spangled Banner and sparklers. From sunup to well past sundown, there’s something for everyone. You can stay up until midnight – or not. Even Uncle Frank’s pranks take on a new sense of levity. (Which finger, Uncle Frank?)
The fabulous, unfrittered fun of the day brings us to reason number two – freedom from expectations. No one looks for wrapped packages or a basket filled with egg-shaped candy on Independence Day. It is void of expectations regarding gift giving, ghostly ghouls or flying reindeer. This isn’t a holiday about gimmes. It’s bigger than that.
As big as reason number one – freedom to be free. This is the best, most important and (really) only reason to revere the Fourth of July. It is a holiday about living in the greatest country in the world – one where we enjoy freedom and liberties others dare only imagine. This freedom didn’t come easily or without cost. Throughout the history of the United States, many people have given their lives so we can light our barbecue grills and sparklers on the Fourth of July. We may not be perfect; we may disagree about politics and other issues, but I feel lucky to live in a place where we are free to disagree. I salute our flag, sing America the Beautiful loud and proud (albeit off-key) and at the end of the day go to bed thankful that I know the reality of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some days are better than others. As far as I am concerned the Fourth of July is one of the best. Enjoy. Celebrate. Give a deserved hug to someone in uniform. God bless America.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.