I always compare the progression of a year to a train ride. The first half of the year, that train is chugging uphill like the little engine that could, huffing and puffing and saying, "I think I can! I think I can!"
Then July hits.
And suddenly you’re careening down the backside of the year in a runaway freight train, barreling toward December at breakneck speed, shouting at mountain goats to. Just. Get. Out. Of. The. Way.
At least that’s how it feels to me. Which is why as soon as the Fourth of July is over, I always say you oughta just put up your Christmas tree and be done with it, because the holidays will be here before we all know it.
When I was a kid Christmas was by far and away my favorite holiday. What’s not to love about a celebration where a stranger dressed in brushed velveteen breaks into your house in the middle of the night and puts stuff in your socks?
I liked the Fourth of July, too. What’s not to love about a holiday where all the teenage boys in your neighborhood try to blow things up? It’s just that if I were the Bachelorette when I was a kid, and I had to choose between Christmas (aka "Brooks," the hometown guy) and the Fourth of July (aka "Juan Pablo" who is "muy caliente" according to my nieces), I would have definitely given Christmas the rose and asked him to stick around for a while.
It’s not that I don’t like Christmas now. I do. I love the lights and the colors, the music and the scents. It’s just that when you grow up, you realize that Christmas is a LOT of work. Especially for the moms. That’s when you start to appreciate holidays that are a little more laid back. Like Arbor Day, for example.
And yes. The Fourth of July, too.
The Fourth is great because there’s lots to do that moms aren’t in charge of — a Bees baseball game, the city parade, the Stadium of Fire.
You’re also not expected to decorate very much. We hang some bunting on the front porch, stick a few flags and red-white-and-blue windmill toys in the flowerpots and call it good. In fact, we don’t call that good. We call that awesome. And also patriotic!
Even if you’re in charge of a picnic, you can just show up with a bucket of KFC and no one will call you a slacker, which is exactly what your family and friends WOULD call you if you served the same thing on Christmas Day. Am I right?
Or you can do what our family does — make food assignments, which means (among other things) that you will be treated to my mother-in-law’s famous potato salad.
After all these years, I’m still not sure why her potato salad is so outstanding. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. Potatoes are involved, of course. Some mayo. A little mustard. Onion salt. A tiny bit of sweet relish juice. And yet it makes all other potato salads ashamed to call themselves potato salads.
Meanwhile, everyone pulls up a chair to eat, to watch kids run through the sprinklers, to enjoy the feel of summer on the skin, to acknowledge that in spite of her faults this is, in fact, a great country.
Have a Happy Fourth!
(And then go get yourselves a Christmas tree, already.)
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