Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day...seriously.

This Saturday I, like most Americans, celebrated the 4th of July. I celebrated the same way most people did. I reveled in my freedom to grill food, watch fireworks and imbibe alcohol at an alarming rate (Make sure you don't combine alcohol consumption with fireworks. Every holiday is more fun when you have all you fingers and/or face). I was keenly aware of the historical implications of the date, but the day's agenda didn't include alot of introspection and solemn appreciation. And you know what? I'm tired of feeling bad about it.

It seems like every holiday there is someone in the back of the stands, reminding or even admonishing the majority on what the "purpose" of the holiday is. Thanksgiving isn't about parades, Christmas isn't about presents, Easter isn't about a gigantic mutated bunny, the fourth of July isn't about one is quite sure what Kwanza was about in the first place. I won't go as far as to call them party poopers, but only because their intentions are noble. Let's be honest with each other though, by any other standard they are party poopers.

Yes, Christmas is supposed to center on the birth of one religion's savior. However, your fondest and most enduring memories do not include your pastor's homilies. They include parties with extended family members, the rituals of decoration, or that time Grandma got irrevocably wasted because she didn't realize the egg-nog had alcohol in it.

Yes, Memorial Day is meant to honor those who have, and still do, defend their country with their lives in order to preserve the freedoms we enjoy daily. But are we meant to spend that day mourning them, or celebrating them? We don't forget the sacrfices of the armed forces when we shuck clams, take a day trip to the beach, or share a drink (whatever the amount may be) with our friends. We take one of the few days in the year we have off and we appreciate the freedom and peace granted to us by the brave men and women in uniform.

Obviously, the Fourth of July celebrates the end of a protracted war with a global superpower that eventually won us the right to have any national holidays at all. No matter how you celebrate this holiday, one thing should be universal: What was ultimately won was freedom. That's freedom to observe the holiday meditating in front of a giant flag, or to spend it celebrating your right to act like a drunken moron.

In the end, I feel like people get so caught up in the original intention of a holiday that they forget the underlying intention behind every holiday. Holidays are meant to bring us together when so many forces in our daily lives are trying to seperate us. It doesn't matter if you hold the Christmas tree in higher regard than the cross if you spend the holiday strengthening the relationships that make a life worth living.

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