As holidays go, and they seem to be going faster as I get older, Independence Day is my personal favorite. It has such potential for injuries, food poisoning and out-of-control fires that I really look forward to it each summer.
To start the day right, you have to plan a great picnic.
The first step, naturally, is to decide on a menu, so we’ll just turn old dad loose on the grill to make his traditional Fourth of July fare of hot dogs charred into cylinders of industrial-grade carbon and hamburgers so undercooked that when people try to eat them they leap off the plate and frolic on the lawn like otters.
That, along with a gallon of Aunt Edna’s homemade Boston baked beans, should provide enough gas to fuel an entire day of activities.
While dad is saying traditional four letter words to his new gas grill - which ignites at the press of a button and burns with a steady, even flame until you put food on it, at which point it runs out of propane - Mom can organize the kids for a fun activity: making old-fashioned ice cream by hand, the way our grandparents did.
You’ll need a hand-cranked ice cream maker, which you can pick up at any antique store for just under $1,500. All you do is put in the ingredients and start cranking!
It makes no difference what ingredients you put in, because – and I speak from bitter experience here – no matter how long you crank, they will never, ever turn into ice cream.
When the kids tire of this activity (allow about 25 to 30 seconds for this), it’s time to play some traditional July Fourth games. One of the most popular is the “sack race.”
All you need is a bunch of burlap sacks, which you can obtain from the Duluth Trading Company for a mere $245.99 apiece. Call the kids outside, have them line up on the lawn and give each one a sack to climb into, and say “GO!”
Then watch the hilarious antics begin as, one by one, they sneak back indoors to resume trying to send inappropriate selfies to each other on their smartphones.
After the traditional visit to the emergency room - because Dad, after a few too many fermented beverages, put on his own pyrotechnic show trying to shut down his new gas grill - it’s time for the Grand Finale.
Come nightfall, everyone gathers around to watch Uncle Wilber set off the fireworks he purchased from a roadside stand operated by people who spend way more money on tattoos than dental hygiene.
The excitement will build as Uncle Wilber lights the fuse to his fireworks and scurries away only to find that the fuse has gone out.
He will do this any number of times, scurrying back and forth with his Bic lighter like a crazed Olympic torch bearer, until the firework makes a “phut” noise – like a mouse passing gas.
You couldn’t ask for a more perfect ending to your Old-Fashioned July Fourth celebration.
On second thought, maybe we’ll just go to Baskin Robbins for some ice cream, feed our pet hamsters Aunt Edna’s baked beans and watch them go “phuuuuuuut,” instead of all the traditional activities.
Have a safe and happy holiday.