Just Another Fourth of July

As the Fourth of July grows closer, I just can’t get excited about it. To my way of thinking, it simply isn’t what it used to be. True, communities continue to observe the holiday with various festivities, politicians persist in giving speeches, and fireworks are still set off after dark. But something is missing.

After careful thought, I concluded that something is me. My heart just hasn’t been in it. For whatever reason, the Fourth of July has become just another day for me.

I decided this year would be different. I was going to celebrate the Fourth just like I did as a child. I would show my grandchildren a true old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. I put together a shopping list and headed for the store.

The first thing on my list was red, white, and blue crepe paper – to weave through the spokes of my bicycle. Unfortunately, the store didn’t have a single roll with all three colors. It’d be a hassle to try to get the same effect using three different rolls of paper, but I was determined to have an old fashioned holiday. I put the crepe paper in my cart.

Next, I went looking for baseball cards. I only needed one – to stick between the bicycle’s frame and back wheel – to make it sound like a motorcycle. When I was young, a nickel would buy five cards and a stick of bubble gum. Was I in for a surprise! At the prices they now charge, I can’t imagine using baseball cards the way we did. We actually played with them. We’d use them to make noise on our bicycles, build houses, or flip (throw) them in various gambling games. We could win or lose hundreds of cards in one afternoon. Now they’re too valuable for anything other than collecting.

I thought about buying one package of cards regardless of the price. Then I remembered something very important: I don’t have a bicycle. I left the card section, put the crepe paper back, and scratched those items off my list.

I still needed something red, white, and blue. So I looked for an American flag. The first flag I picked up wasn’t a flag at all. According to its packaging, it was a “celebration banner.” The banner was two and one-half feet wide by four feet long. It was made of very nice fabric and had embroidered stars. The packages labeled as “flags” were no different except for the sizes. One was three feet by five feet; the other was four feet by six feet.

I wanted to get the banner because it was cheaper, but I didn’t want to do anything un-American. No one in the store could explain the difference. I decided to hold off until I could find out if it’s politically correct to hang a celebration banner in lieu of a flag.

I was batting zero but my enthusiasm was still high. I headed for the toy department to get some sparklers, cap pistols, and other noise makers.

I found the cap pistols buried among the laser weapons… and found myself bewildered. Would my grandchildren prefer a laser weapon over a six-shooter? Would they even know what a six-shooter is? How many cowboy and Indian shows are still on television? How many science fiction space shows?

I was leaning toward the laser pistol with the pulsating trigger and action sounds, but the sounds weren’t right. For the Fourth of July, a simple BOOM is all that’s required. I scratched the guns off my list.

As for the sparklers, I was told I’d have to drive to Tennessee and buy them because they’re illegal in Georgia. Again, I had to ask myself about the political correctness of driving a couple hundred miles to break the law. Forget the sparklers.

I asked about the other noise makers I had in mind. No one understood what I was talking about. Again they suggested the Volunteer State. I thanked them for their time and updated my list once again.

The only items left on my list were for the cookout. I went to the grocery store hoping to have better luck. I should have known better. In truth, I had no problem finding the items on my list. The problem was the items on my list.

As I reached for a giant package of ground beef, I realized my family prefers ground turkey or veggie burgers. They tell me typical hamburgers contain too many grams of fat. I tell them the fat is what makes my burgers taste better than their fake burgers.

To insure someone besides me ate the burgers, I got the ground turkey. I selected the turkey wieners rather than the “all-beef by-products” type for the same reason. The potato salad looked delicious, but I left it in the display case because we’re all watching our cholesterol levels. I also passed on the pork and beans. I completed the shopping by picking up lettuce, tomatoes, onions, fat-free cheese, diet sodas, low-fat milk, fat-free mayonnaise, sugar-free cookies, and fat-free frozen yogurt.

I think I just remembered why the Fourth of July seems like just another day to me.

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