The American Way

I flat love the 4th of July.

As far as enjoyable holidays go, I think it beats every other one. No contest.

Here’s why.

You don’t have to dress up. In fact, dressing up is usually discouraged. Today is the day you can wear your flip flops anywhere you want, and no one will even give you a sideways glance.

You don’t have to decorate. You can if you want to, bunting and all that jazz, but really all that is required is Old Glory aloft on a summer breeze. Long may she wave.

You don’t have to go to church. Not that there’s anything wrong with church, but its nice to have a day where you can be quietly thankful at home and not have to arrive at the church house an hour and a half early only to find that the zealots have gotten there even earlier and “saved” every moderately close-up pew with a mosaic of clothing and programs. Plus, you can’t wear flip flops to church. It’s just not right.

You can drink before noon. Not that I advocate drinking all day, but sometimes a little libation is nice to get the day rolling. It’s a little weird to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus or his resurrection with a cocktail, but the independence of our nation — now that calls for a Bloody Mary.

You don’t have to plan for months. No gift buying. No special outfits (except for the aforementioned flip flops). No five-course menu. No polishing the silver. You really don’t even have to use the everyday china — paper and plastic is totally acceptable.

You don’t have to be a galloping gourmet. If you can boil water or grate a cabbage, you’re a plenty good enough cook for the 4th of July. No standing rib roast with little paper thingies. No bûche de Noël. No need to even sprinkle a slivered almond or nonpareil on anything. Ribs, burgers, dawgs, low country boil, slaw, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs — all good, all easy, no worries. If you want to get fancy shmancy, stick a piece of parsley in the potato salad.

There will be baseball. It’s America’s pastime and there’s always a home game on the 4th. Tonight the Birmingham Baron‘s will take on the Mississippi Braves at Birmingham’s brand new Region’s Field. Hot popcorn, cold beer, the possibility of catching a fly ball — I can’t wait.

The day always ends in fireworks. Any day that ends in fireworks is a good day.

Oh, and there’s that little issue of celebrating our country’s freedom. We’re damn lucky to have it. Many don’t. Be grateful. It’s the American way.