Here’s the deal. July fourth was never one of my favorite holidays. You don’t get candy or presents. You don’t get love notes or an excuse to wear green. You don’t even get to stay up until midnight. It’s not well defined. As a kid, I never knew exactly what was going on. Partly because the things we do to celebrate on this day have no particular relationship to the reason we’re celebrating.
What are we celebrating? Every year, on July 4th, we celebrate the fact that on July 2nd, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Great Britain. At the time, John Adams wrote that July 2nd “will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival.” But, regardless of whether or not we’re a couple of days off, we’re basically saying, “Ha, ha, England, you can’t tell us what to do anymore.”
Although I risk the Tea Party’s ire, I’m not so psyched about this message anymore. I mean, we’ve been friends with England for quite awhile now. Are we still bragging about this? And what about the other European nations that colonized North America? Why don’t we celebrate the end to the Dutch tyrants who ruled over much of New England? That’s right Netherlandians, you can’t tell us what to do either. We’re independent. Geez, we sound like a teenager that just moved out of his parents’ house…two hundred and twenty five years ago.
And how do we celebrate America? With uniquely American traditions, of course…with British outings (picnics), Carribean food (barbecue) and one of China’s most famous inventions (fireworks). Yay, America.
Of course, fireworks are the big thing. First created in China to scare off evil spirits, we now celebrate our independence by blowing off our appendages with these explosives. In 2010, there were nearly 9,000 firework-related trips to Emergency Rooms (69% of which came around the July 4th holiday). We are like teenagers. Hey, England, we’ve got our own apartment now…and we’re gonna light things on fire. Suckers.
For me, this holiday is mostly an inconvenience. This is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year and, here in LA, we celebrate by parking on the freeway driving to the beach. Unless we live near the beach, then we drive inland. If we live in the north, we drive south. If we live in the south, we drive north. Wherever we live, we drive to someplace else. Why? Because a couple of centuries ago we decided to be our own country and that’s worth driving about.
I’m sorry. I don’t like barbecue. Fireworks are overrated. I prefer the Spice Girls to Stars and Stripes. I’ve never understood parades. Eating on a blanket is not more fun than eating at a dining room table. And nobody likes traffic.
So, how am I going to do it? How will I shut down our country’s most patriotic holiday? Oh, I won’t. Not a chance. I’d have a better shot at getting more Google hits than, say, Patton Oswalt. I just wanted to voice my objection. Don’t get me wrong. I like this country. It’s my favorite country I’ve ever lived in. I just wonder if this holiday makes any sense. But, as long as I’m stuck on the 405, you might as well pass me a Sparkler.