First, let me say Happy Fourth of July. Regardless of all that has happened in and to our country over the past months, it is still a fine country. Like you, our family will assemble and carry out some Independence Day traditions. We will eat, go to the Dairy Queen for ice cream (a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard for me), and watch the city’s firework display. Afterward, on the way home, we will decide whether the firework display was better than the one from the year before.
While on our mini-vacation this week I told my daughters about a funny event that took place on the 4th of July at my grandfather Arvil’s house almost 35 years ago. Telling that story took me back to the many 4th of July family gatherings at his house. Then, I wondered what he would think of life today. I couldn’t help but jot down a few observations, and pass them along to you. In order to provide some context for the thoughts that follow you will need to know a little about my grandfather Arvil.
“Papa Arvil” was born in the Ozark mountains of North Arkansas, lived through the Great Depression, farmed for a living, worked hard, spoke few words, and until his death, raised the vast majority of his own food through an extensive garden and by raising cattle, pigs, and chickens. He was my hero.
He died when I was a senior in college. So, I have lived more of my life without him than with him alive. I think of him often, and wonder what he would think of things today. If, on this Independence Day, my granddad Arvil was sitting in his chair on his front porch — which is where he spent much of his time after he retired — watching the world and traffic ease by, here are some observations that he would likely make:
- He would marvel that people pay “good money” for water in small bottles, rocks by the pound (for decoration no less), and gourmet coffee. I can hear him saying, “Don’t that beat anything that you have ever seen…”
- He would likely cuss, under his breath, at the fact that people will not work hard, yet expect to have whatever they want.
- He would smirk and make a smart remark about people that want their food grown organically and sourced locally. He would tell them to learn to “make a good garden” for themselves. Also, he would laugh at the fact that sane people actually desire to eat chicken wings. No matter what sort of sauce is put on them.
- He would fuss that Daylight Savings Time is still allowed. He disliked it, and swore that “the sun was a working man’s watch.”
- He would sit quietly, in shock, at the state of America. Then, most likely, he would get out of his chair, and go to his garden to be alone. As he walked off he would mutter, “that’s sorry, just sorry.”
- He would grin at the sight of my daughters, and plot (with them) to buy each of them a BB gun. He would tell them that he would pay them five dollars to scrape and paint his front yard fence, and that he would inspect the work before he paid them. This money would be used in the purchase of the BB guns.
He would be himself, and remind me how fortunate I am to live in the place that I live in, have good people close by, and the opportunity to work and make a living. What he would say, or imply, would remind me that America is great — despite her current faults and flaws — and that I should be grateful for those who have lived and died to make it a grand nation.
Happy Fourth of July everyone. Let’s thank God for our country, our forefathers, our family and friends, and many, many blessings.