The funny thing about Independence Day – at least for me – is that it’s literally the summer’s version of Christmas Day. In both cases, there’s a lot of anticipation and build up as we head towards the “big event.” In the case of July 4th, the stores are filled with patriotic paraphernalia as early as the day after Easter; in the case of Christmas, there are some stores (in my area) that start stocking for Santa as early as May 30 – seriously. There are sales on food, discussions on invites and proper gathering etiquette; there are an assortment of festive and idiotic kitschy crap with which to decorate your walls, mailbox, and home (like “Fourth of July House Lights”), and you can’t go two feet in any direction without being bombarded with seasonal colors – red, white, and green, for Christmas, and red, white, and blue, for Uncle Sam. Both holidays are custom-made for marketing, and while many people decry Valentine’s Day as a non-event manufactured by greeting card companies, they wholly miss the painful over commercialization of both December 25, and July 4.
With that out of the way – whew! – there’s another reason why these two particular holidays are brothers from different festive mothers: After they’ve come, their respective season seems to end. Let me put it this way: How happy were you about snow on the day after Christmas? Not very likely. In fact, that morning, after you’d returned from cashing in on all of the post-holiday sales, chances are that you started talking about spring – hoping the next eight weeks would be relatively light on the snow issue, and praying that those below-zero days were few and far apart. It’d suit you just fine to wake up that late December morn to find the temps in the mid-70Fs. In short, you couldn’t give two thoughts about winter anymore because the big event had come and gone.
Well, Independence Day is the same way. Now that it’s come and gone, summer is over. All that remains is the countdown for fall and the pending return to school. I went to the Mart of Wal today, and despite the fact that Independence Day had ended just ten hours earlier, the staff there had already packed away their colorful July 4th section and replaced it with back-to-school merchandise. Where once there’d been colorful tablecloths, napkins, paper plates, and gaudy cups with an intoxicated Uncle Sam screaming, “I Want You – To Refill My Cup,” scrawled on them (James Montgomery Flagg must be spinning in his grave), they were now replaced with 100-sheet packages of loose-lined paper, pencil sets, and lunch boxes with some generic pop-star’s face. Less than ten hours, mind you.
Sure, life moves on, but this is ridiculous.