My family just celebrated Independence Day as we do every year, and for the first time in my life, it strikes me what a strange way it is that we celebrate this holiday.
First, we go over to my Uncle Harold’s house and stuff ourselves almost to the point of hospitalization. Then at some point in the afternoon, somebody comes out of the house and announces “We’ve got watermelon!” An almost tangible glee grips all those in attendance. Wonder of wonders! We’ve got watermelon! Can life get any better?
Personally, I’ve never understood this excitement about watermelon. But Charles, you say, aren’t you southern? Aren’t all southerners supposed to like watermelon? Maybe so, but just because it’s southern doesn’t mean I have to embrace it. You don’t see me cutting off my shirt sleeves and calling myself Charles the Cable Guy, do you?
So, what’s the big deal with watermelon anyway? I don’t get it. It’s hard to get excited about a treat that tastes like water. I mean, think about it. It’s the only fruit that tastes so much like water that the word “water” is actually part of its name.
I could see how it might have been popular in the olden days, back before they invented refined sugar, but now we have candy bars for crying out loud. So, your choices are to stand around in the sun eating watery fruit, or head inside and raid Uncle Harold’s cookie jar. I think it’s a pretty easy decision to make, when you think about it in those terms.
Next, at our little celebration, someone from the kitchen announces that Aunt Cassie is making real homemade ice cream! Yippee! Hooray! Huzzah! Real homemade ice cream!
I’ve found this process usually takes about three hours. After three hours, demand for Aunt Cassie’s ice cream has grown so strong that, under great duress and threats of physical violence, Aunt Cassie reluctantly ladles out soupy spoonfuls of her real homemade ice cream. Yummy.
I don’t mean to disrespect my relatives or anything, but you have to wonder if any of them have ever wandered into the frozen food section at the grocery store. They’ve got mounds and mounds of ice cream over there and, if truth be told, it’s about a trillion times better than homemade ice cream.
Homemade” may have been a good thing back in the Great Depression, but these days we generally look down on it. It’s just not an expression you hear bandied about with much enthusiasm these days. “Did you see Frank’s cool new dentures? Yeah, I understand they’re homemade!”
Finally, after a long day of feasting, either one of two things happen. Either we all pile into the cars and suffer through a couple hours of traffic to see The Big Fireworks Show at the Mall or we create The Big Show in Uncle Harold’s backyard with firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers. And every year without fail, some cousin of mine narrowly escapes dismemberment or an early death. And that’s just from playing with the sparklers.
And why do we do all of these things? Tradition? Maybe. Fun? You bet. But the real reason we do this is to celebrate a concept that is hard to wrap our heads around: Freedom.
And speaking of freedom, I just realized I have a little extra free time and some leftover bottle rockets. If you never hear from me again, you’ll know I should’ve stuck to the sparklers.
Laughter Liner Notes
It can’t be only me. There must be some people out there who have suffered in silence and marveled at the mismanagement of a perfectly good holiday. I’m not saying we should tear down our traditions, but maybe we could just remodel them a bit with some candy bars and store-bought ice cream.
But I can hear your reply even as I write these words. You’re thinking, No, it’s just you. And who knows? You’re probably right. It wouldn’t be the first time my weird ideas didn’t catch on.
Triggered Troll Remarks
You stinkin’ low rent, no account, lousy commie! How dare you make fun of America and defame our national holiday! I imagine you wrote this with your posters of Stalin and Lenin on the walls decorating your gray little commie apartment.
Well, guess what, bub? The rest of us like America how it is, so you can take your Marxist propaganda back to Leningrad or Canada or wherever you’re from!
I’ll be forwarding your comments to my pals in the Russian mafia.
© 2021 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site www.CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com or contact him via e-mail at Charles@CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com