Saturday, July 04, 2009

happy birthday america

Snapshots of another July 4 weekend . . . a day early celebrating my mother's birthday (yes it's on the Fourth), first time in 50+ years without my Dad, everything else weirdly the same . . . killing time in an upscale Long Island shopping mall, which is filled with Italian stores but hasn't quite figured out the amenities, like offering shoppers a place to walk, sit down, or relieve themselves . . . today the joy of juggling two parades with the Jewish Sabbath, a convenient reminder that Jews will never be and perhaps shouldn't be perfectly integrated (although they fight about these things in Israel too) . . . the papers say the fireworks this year will be more environmentally constructive, or maybe just less destructive, than in previous years . . . the neighbors complain about street traffic on a street that gets, perhaps, three cars in an hour . . . the two of us alone in a house pleasant but almost too quiet with the kids at camp and everything shut down for a day

How is it that every country seems to have won its independence in the summer? A quick count shows the US (July 4), Canada (July 1), France (July 14), and India (August 15) among places that I've visited. Italy has two national holidays (June 2 and April 25) but late April is almost the summer there especially when one figures in the "bridge" to May 1 (May Day) which many take off altogether. Israel goes by the Jewish calendar so it's usually in May, sometimes very late April, but always hot. The only institution I can think of that has its biggest holiday in the winter is Christianity, but they're a religion not a country and Christmas falls in the summer in the southern hemisphere where, if current trends continue, most Christians will probably live eventually anyway. Maybe countries just pick the warmest of the available days, or maybe rebellions and revolutions, in the days before air conditioning, tended to happen when the weather was hot. Either way, enjoy it while it lasts.


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