Independence Day should be a day of rest

Courtesy photo

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, I was talking to my friend, Julie, about things other people do to celebrate. Julie mentioned that her neighbor starts preparing days ahead of time, much like she’s on the verge of a Thanksgiving feast. She buys craft kits for guests’ children, decorates her house and yard in red, white and blue streamers, prepares salads and casseroles, marinates beef and pork for a barbecue, and since she has air conditioning (obviously God loves her more than me) she bakes cakes, which she tops with American flags she cleverly creates with frosting. The clincher was that her family always runs a 5K early on that morning. I listened intently, then without realizing it, I evidently appeared in pain or maybe I simply put my face in its usual unwelcoming frown because my friend suddenly stopped talking. We stared at each other for a count of two, I knitted my brows and curled my lip in a sneer, then we both burst into peals of laughter. Julie quickly declared, “All that do-good junk she does — that’s not us, I’m just telling you about her, but that’s not us. We volunteer to bring ice and paper towels to backyard get-togethers.”

This year’s Independence Day marks the 247th commemoration of the Declaration of Independence and freedom from British rule. Since those amazing signers’ time, we’ve grown from 2.5 million people to 330 million and with advances in health and sanitation, child mortality has been cut from more than 45 percent to under 1 percent. We live an average of 35 years longer and have built almost 4 million miles of paved roads. We have over 5,000 public airports and electricity powers our country, with 85 percent of households having access to broadband internet and nearly every home has a computer.

Clearly, we’ve outdone ourselves thanks to the 56 signers’ fighting spirits. I’d like to think I’d have been by General Washington’s side calling King George a bloody turd and telling him to shove his taxes. I’ll tell you though, I’m a little sad we didn’t keep the British accent because I have a marvelous British accent. My offspring disagree and lose their minds and roll their eyes when I say, “Oh blimey, don’t be cheeky you wee blokes.” My children simply do not appreciate my many talents.

I was reading about ways to celebrate the Fourth and found that nearly everyone enjoys parades, backyard barbecues, picnics at the lake, walks in the park or trips to the beach. One article mentioned reading a book about American history to children. I’m pretty that would not have been met with joyful spirits at my house on this sunny, summer day. Someone said they like to try a new sport each year. I was skeptical. On this day with minimal health care in attendance at most facilities, we’re going to take up something we’ve never done before. When I read on, I was relieved the author wasn’t talking about strenuous, death-defying feats, but instead, meant kayaking, yoga, Pilates or paddle boarding.

I tried paddle boarding once on the Fourth of July, but only once because it was a lot of work and it was in the ocean. I’d paddled quite a ways out into the bay until I was drenched in perspiration from the Florida heat and humidity. I stopped to rest, and when I looked down, I saw shadows and if I’d had a heart, it would have stopped. I did a fast paddle or at least as fast as my chubby, little arms could swing, back to shore. Everyone scoffed and I was assured the water was so clear that the shadows I perceived didn’t come from underneath, but were instead clouds. Really? How would those landlubbers, who were not with me on the board, know? My 6-year-old granddaughter patted my arm, “Grammy, I went out earlier and it wasn’t scary at all.” I didn’t reply because her father quipped, “Well, you’re young, but Gram was making cupcakes for the Founding Fathers and since we know her, we’re pretty she was eavesdropping on them touting wisdom, so now she thinks she knows things.” I think I know I slugged him in the arm.

Perhaps my most memorable Independence Day was a few years back when it snowed. As I started the truck, I scratched “ICK” into the icy front window and sent a photo to our kids. Our eldest shot back a text, “Nothing says, ‘Happy 4th of July’ like frost on a windshield.”


Trena Eiden     [email protected]