Jewish World Review
June 26, 2013/ 18 Tammuz, 5773
My favorite Fourth is coming right up
I shouldn't admit this. I might regret it later. But I have to tell you: The Fourth of July has never been my favorite holiday.
There are several reasons, not one of which has anything to do with patriotism or the lack of it.
Growing up in the '50s, in the rural South, children were taught that we were blessed to be born in the greatest nation on Earth, and we should never take that gift for granted.
I never took it for granted. I swear. I loved my country with my whole heart and wished it the happiest of birthdays, with many happy returns.
But here's the thing. I flat-out hated having to go to the annual Hatch Mill company picnic, a Fourth of July "Happy Birthday, G0D Bless America," fried chicken and fireworks extravaganza.
At least, I think that's what it was called. Words to that effect.
My stepfather worked for the mill. He was a weaver, and proud of it. The weavers ran the looms. When the looms broke down, the fixers fixed them. Then the weavers went back to weaving. It was a symbiotic arrangement, mostly amiable, except on the Fourth of July.
On that date, the mill would host a picnic and the mill hands would gather with their families to eat fried chicken and cheer for the fireworks and pull with all their hearts for one side or the other, weavers or fixers, in a do-or-die, no-holds-barred, last-man-standing tug-of-war.
That was fine. But it was hot, as my granddad would say, "Hotter than the devil's toenails, or a firecracker in a feather bed on the Fourth of July."
And I didn't know any of the other kids, so I had nobody to play with, except my brothers. I already had to play with them too much at home.
So I'd keep to myself, swinging on the swings, watching the big boys throw chicken bones and firecrackers at each other. That was mildly entertaining, until they'd get bored and start throwing them at me.
I put up with it year after year for two reasons: One, I felt it was my patriotic duty; and two, my mother made me go.
That changed the summer I was 10, when my stepfather, a big man in size and stature, lost his footing in the tug-of-war and twisted his ankle so badly he was on crutches for six months.
They gave his job to one of the fixers. That Christmas, Santa didn't make it to our house. But at least we never had to go to that company picnic again.
My children grew up on the fogbound coast of Northern California. Every Fourth of July, we'd bundle up against the cold, build a bonfire on the beach, do a picnic and watch fireworks with other shivering families.
I'd spend most of the evening trying to keep the kids from catching on fire or getting washed out to sea. I liked it better than the Hatch Mill picnic, but it was still not my favorite holiday.
Now my children are grown and we live miles apart. Like many families, it's hard for us all to get together for holidays.
Last summer, my youngest and his wife and their 2-year-old came to Las Vegas to spend the Fourth with my husband and me. We barbecued and watched fireworks from our backyard. Then, while his mom and dad and Papa Mark swam in the pool, Randy buried his face in my neck and fell asleep. That was my favorite Fourth so far.
This year, on the Fourth of July, my husband's oldest boy is getting married in California. We are taking the week off and renting a big house where our children and grandchildren will join us. We'll sleep under the same roof, eat at the same table, celebrate the wedding of two beautiful people, and watch fireworks under the same sky.
It will be absolutely my favorite holiday. And I might not even have to dodge chicken bones or firecrackers.
Just when you think the best is past, life will tap you on the shoulder and say, "Watch this!"
Here's wishing you and yours a happy Fourth of July. It really is a great country, isn't it?
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment by clicking here.
• Keep following the sun
• A time of laughter --- but then a call for help, and panic
• Meaningful conversations between strangers
• Thank Goodness for little things
• Lucky for all sorts of reasons
• I promised myself he'd never have a stepdad
• Did I hear it?
• Other People's Stuff
• Imprinted geography: Home is wherever the mountain is
• Long-overdue thank-yous
• My sister's big news
• Finding peace wherever I can; at the moment and in memory
• I wish someone had told me this before it took years off my life
• The best part of being a grandparent
• Feasting on scraps: The reality behind a life habit
• The only tradition to keep absolutely
• The class hears from the teacher's mom
• We live in different towns, but share the same home
• The value of one true friend
• With Sandy raging, a 'which' kind of day
• The connections that truly matter
• Children don't need much --- but need to know they matter
• Cancer is everyone's story
• When does 'happily ever after' begin?
• Is there ever a good way to say goodbye?
• The being and the finding
• When fishing, she lands companionship
• Trophy sunsets
• Helping a friend find the way
• A home abloom with family and sunflowers
• Healing is our highest calling
• Needing help can really make you feel so, well . . . helpless
• The bedspread from hell
• A phone call to treasure
• It was close to the best gift my father had ever received
• It was the right time --- not a moment too late or too soon
• 25 tips for staying married
• Some people water your soul --- a storm worth waiting for
• Driving country roads helps restore hope
• Confessions of a bad-weather magnet
• The new star of my husband's harem
• Shared family moments are precious, irreplaceable
• What I'll remember from serving on the jury in a murder case
• When someone walks into your life and never lets you go
• Look for beauty
• We can't always 'be there' when we're needed
• Picture-perfect memories
• To love someone is to want to hear all their stories
• With age should come at least some wisdom
• A story for my grandson
• Regretting she didn't help out a woman in need
• Post-holiday-visit blues
• For 2012, tuck some hope into your wallet
• The measure of a time well spent is not where you went or what you did. It's the way you smile remembering it
• Treating people we love like the Jello salad at Thanksgiving dinner
• We all need something or someone to pull for
• Hold on to treasured words, don't trust memory
• A storybook princess
• Love reaches forward, never back
• How to Watch a Sunset
• Waiting often comes with gifts
• An exceptional book club
• There is no guilt in moving forward
• Celebrations full of love and buttercream
• It takes a whole village of shoes to raise a child
• The best stories always tell us who we are
• Stop, look back . . . and listen
• The great outdoors, if one's lucky, a rock-solid companion
• An iChat with my grandson
• Lightening bugs and other things make us glow
• Each and every Fourth of July a cause for celebration
© 2012, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE