The Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. On Christmas I had to wait for my parents to wake up before I could open presents – and now there’s the stress of finding the perfect gift for friends and family while attempting to stick to a budget. Thanksgiving often involves a whole day of cooking and baking for a feast that’s devoured in 20 minutes. New Year’s Eve has it’s merits, but it loses some points when you don’t have someone to kiss at midnight.
Independence Day however is a fantastic holiday. It doesn’t matter if you’re single or coupled, with family or friends, if you’re in the US on July 4 – you can celebrate. Christian, Muslim, Jew or Atheist, no one’s going to be offended if you wish them a happy 4th of July. Everyone loves a barbeque, even vegetarians can participate - feasting on corn on the cob & veggie burgers is perfectly acceptable…(try serving a Tofurkey next Thanksgiving and see what kind of reaction you get). Then there’s the music, although I won’t be trying out for American Idol any time soon… I love singing. I love folk songs… America the Beautiful is one of my all time favorite songs and I sing it regularly in the car, or sometimes walking to work (I have a fantastic view of Mt. Hood – and some mornings it is quite a magestic purple mountain.) The second verse is, however, my favorite.
America the Beautiful – Katherine Lee Bates 1913
O beautiful for spacious skies,
God mend thine every flaw. I love my country, I do. I love our immigrant heritage, I love our diversity, I love the land and our independent spirity. But yes, we have flaws… many many many many flaws… both as citizens of this country and the government. I still love my homeland. I do. This year, I’m really excited to get to share this holiday with my student – an immigrant – who like so many countless others who have come to America hoping for a better future. I have a few books about Independence Day I want to read to her, and I fully intend to subject her to my heartfelt & off-key rendition of the National Anthem. If I get my act together, I might even make an apple pie for her family.
I will not, however, get to stay up to watch the fireworks. Tomorrow I will be flying out to Tennessee to see my family. In particular, this little guy – my nephew.
Yes, that's a very young me with him - please no comments about the glasses!
Who of course doesn’t look like that anymore (even though that’s how I still think of him)… while I wasn’t looking, he turned into this.
Now I’ve always felt that my nephew kinda got the shaft. My sister is not the maternal type… nor is she the responsible type… nor is she… well, let me just stop there and just say she and my nephew lived at home until way past when I left for college, and he still lives with my family now in Tennesse. But for all the drama he’s had to endure growing up, he’s managed to avoid jail time & drug use, and although it was doubtful right up to the end, he did manage to graduate High School. I cannot overstate how much of an accomplishment this was!
And now that he has graduated High School, my little baby nephew has decided to join the Marines. He ships out to basic training on July 8th. I didn’t fly out for his graduation, because honestly I wasn’t sure if he’d make it. But now that he’s going to be leaving if only for basic training, I would like to spend some time with him.
I also want to give him something. One of the projects I’ve been planning is a blue & green batik quilt for him. I picked out particularly ‘manly’ colors and was planning on a ‘manly’ geometric pattern… nothing fancy or frilly. But I haven’t actually gotten around to cutting any of it out. So when I got the call last Saturday telling me that my nephew would be joining the Marines afterall, I knew I wouldn’t have time to finish it before he left. But I did have an appropriate quilt in progress I could give him.
The red and white fabrics are a bit girlier than I would have chosen had I intended to give this quilt to him from the start. I made up for it with the backing though.
And here's the finished quilt.
Happy Independence Day!