Friday, July 04, 2008
Fourth of July in Middle America
After filling ourselves with the grandest of hot dog and bratwurst feasts, there is a momentary lull as the transition to night gets underway. The menfolk gather, as menfolk seem to do, around the empty firepit begging their attention. With few words, "Add more paper," "Who has the matches?" and "Now this wood's nice and dry," a tiny spark brings to life a roaring blaze that beckons us all to come closer. There's always one adult, with the twinkle in his eyes, who sets his marshmallow ablaze and cries for help, as squealing youngsters come to his *rescue*.Chocolate squares are shared and crumbs of graham crackers fall to the ground as "just one more s'more" is built. As dusk falls, colorful quilts are spread across the evening's cool green grass. Two more grandparent-ready lawn chairs are set out, but the children always cajole Grandma onto the quilt to sit and snuggle as the darkness surrounds them. Eyes adjusting to the night sky suddenly spy the flicker of fireflies in the field nearby. It's too much for our restless young patriots. They leap off the quilt, as Grandma smiles and smooths it flat again. Chubby hands with paper cups trying to make the first catch. Suddenly a loud *BOOM* calls everyone to attention. Parents reel in their little ones, all sticky hands and fireflies and point into the dark, night sky. "I can't see anything!" an impatient onlooker wails. "Just wait and watch," whispers back another. And then, the sky lights up. A million Christmas lights turning at once and then popping simultaneously before starting again. Husbands pull their wives next to them. Children cheer. Even Grandpa reaches for Grandma's familiar hand. Collectively, we ooh and aah. But it is something more than the sparkling lights in the distant sky. It is this moment, shared together, that is more beautiful than any fireworks display could ever be.
A very Happy and Blessed Fourth of July to you all!
You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck