Fourth of July – What Went Wrong This Year … And a Few Tips for 2016

OK, I realize that this is not the timeliest of moments to offer my insight into what makes a great holiday celebration – as well as where people go horribly wrong – but the rotten aspects of this most recent Fourth-of-July holiday are now so fresh in my mind, I figure it’s a great time to offer helpful (albeit mildly premature – yes, I’ll admit it) tips so that we all can save ourselves next year from the foibles and missteps that plagued this most recent celebration of our great Nation’s independence.

Now, perhaps your experience was different, but this year turned out to be a pretty rotten holiday.  And I have to say, most people I know would not rank this year’s celebration as a noteworthy one for anything positive.

My personal feeling is that this holiday was “off” for two reasons:

 1) The Supreme Court Rulings on Obamacare and Same-Sex Marriage.  Whatever your personal opinion on these two issues, they were very polarizing ones.  These opposing views were bound to come out of the woodwork and serve as horrible conversation pieces for what should be a fun and celebratory event.

It’s like when my liberal hippie brother-in-law decides to bring up politics at the Thanksgiving table.

Great….

I know I don’t appear to be the classiest guy, but I’m an old-fashioned American boy and I abide by the Gentleman’s code:

         Never discuss politics, money, or the woman you were with last night.

Needless to say, the recent events in Washington offered a perfect opportunity for our young men and women to NOT mind their manners.

2) Some people/institutions celebrated on FRIDAY

Since the holiday this year fell on Saturday, the holiday was observed on Friday.  Sure, that makes sense – it’s the closest day to the actual 4th and we ALL deserve a day off to celebrate the best event in modern history and the birth of the greatest country in the world, but this was not the day to celebrate.

Some local cities and community groups scheduled their fireworks for Friday night.

Come on guys, you can’t split up the fun and expect it to still be good!!  We all know that the best part of the Fourth of July is watching out kids stand in awe of a fireworks display.  If you have a few shows the night before, it takes the air out of everything and we lose that eager anticipation that makes the 4th such a great family holiday.

Okay, so of course, those issues were, well, completely out of anyone’s control.  That being said, I still feel like the general enthusiasm was down this year and I now want to get into a few tips that will help make a great Fourth next year… and the many years to follow!

How to Host a Spectacular Fourth-of-July party

1) Invite the Boss.  We all have our own music preferences, but EVERY party should have some good American-centric music playing at a Fourth-of-July party.  For God’s sake, play some Springsteen!  Or at the very least some John  Mellencamp.  People need to feel the AMERICAN-ness of the party.  That’s the whole point.  We also need to pass our proud American heritage on to our kids.  positive associations with American music is a great way to do this.

2) Play some all-American movies on low volume inside the house.  Again, this is another way to just keep reminding people that this is  party to celebrate our great nation.  When people go inside to use the bathroom and get a little quiet time, it will be nice for them to pause and take in a few minutes of Forrest Gump, or maybe Independence Day.  It really helps set and keep the tone.

3) Have appetizers, sides, and mains available at all times.  This is a day of burgers and beers, not courses.  BE RELAXED.  If you make things too regimented, and make your guests have to wait for “meal time,’ it takes on too formal of a feel.  People are going to drop in as they drop in, and they should be able to eat when they feel like it.  This is not the day to make a ceremony of eating food.  The only thing ceremony that should be anticipated is the fireworks show.  Everything else should be easy.  EASY. And FUN.

4) Go for a red-white-and-blue theme.  I know it seems like a silly detail, but again, this is a culturally significant holiday.  We need to make the whole darned thing as AMERICAN as possible.  Our parents did it for us and we need to do it for our kids.

5) Keep your food BBQ-themed.  While my first choice is burgers, dogs, potato salad, Mac-n-cheese, macaroni salad, etc… I realize that we are, indeed a melting pot here.  Some people’s genuine American experience involved eating Kimchee, baba ganoush, or Carne Asada.  That’s great – and our differences in home-comfort-cuisine should be embraced.  We all did grow up eating different versions of American food with different cultural origins.  That being said, this is a holiday to celebrate our freedom, and living under the great open, American sky.  Therefore, whatever cuisine is served, it should be the outdoor/casual/barbecue version of that cuisine.  THAT’S the important part.

6) Serve Watermelon.  Come on, everyone wants watermelon on the Fourth of July.  This is non-negotiable.  I guarantee that your guests will be secretly disappointed if they don’t see watermelon.  I already told you you can grill kabobs or carne asada instead of burgers.  This is the Fourth of July.  Serve some f***ing watermelon.

7) Don’t forget your American FLAG!  Let’s all be proud Americans, at least for one day.  We’re lucky to be here, let’s not let our kids (or any liberal hippie in-laws who may be in attendance) forget it.

8) Have a plan for the fireworks.  Whether you will be able to see them from your yard, or you’ll be catching them form a different location, make sure your plan and timing is clear.  Use the f***ing internet.  Firework showtimes and locations are posted online.  There is no reason why you should not be aware of which shows you will be able to see and where.  And make sure everyone knows.  This is a special holiday and fireworks are an integral part of the holiday.  Get it together.  It’s not that hard.

Alright, I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  They may be obvious to some, but I’m surprised at how some of these details can escape people.  And these details really do make all the difference.

Happy belated Fourth!

God Bless America!!