27 Jun 2009
Second to Christmas, a favorite holiday of mine is the Fourth of July. Perhaps this rings true with many Americans this year. But what year would be complete without the obligatory Fourth of July picnic. I think somewhere in the Constitution our forward thinking forefathers included a clause making this a required activity for American citizenship.
I am not one for parades. If you have seen one parade, you have seen them all. I can think of something better to do than standing along the streets with a herd of noisy people I do not know watching silly little floats go by.
And when it comes to fireworks displays, I have seen them all. I have a hard time justifying setting a couple hundred dollars on fire just for the amusement of it all.
But what I do like about the Fourth of July is the picnic. I have never met a picnic I did not enjoy. I can wade in among people I do not even know and enjoy myself if there is a nice picnic spread before me. Everybody's joke is funny as long as the picnic basket holds up.
It has been several years since my wife and I have enjoyed a little picnic by ourselves. This past week the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage surprised me by announcing right out of the blue, "Let's have a picnic."
Even though the announcement caught me off guard, I recuperate quickly and responded with a, "hot diggity dog, yes." There are many things I am slow at, but that list does not include a picnic. I would go to a picnic at the drop of a hat. The problem is, I am prone to drop everything but my hat.
The picnic announcement put me in a rather happy mood.
I suppose it has been a long time since we have had a picnic by ourselves. In fact, it has been so long that I had forgotten all the things involved in having a picnic. I was soon to discover those "things."
"Here is a list," my wife said as she shoved it into my hands, "run to the grocery store and get everything on this list."
I do not remember this activity being part of having a good time at a picnic. As I got into my car to go to the store, I just chalked this up to my failing memory.
When I got to the checkout counter the young lady behind the counter rung up my purchases and said in a very cheery voice, "That will be $39.47, please."
It is a good thing she said please. As I pulled two $20 bills from my wallet and phone of all the things I could buy with that money. But, I grabbed the grocery bag and headed for my car to go home.
When I got home, I was greeted by my wife at the door with a truckload of "stuff" she said was for our picnic. "Load these into the car so we can get started for our Fourth of July picnic."
Thirty minutes later, we were finally in the car on the road to the picnic area. About this time, I was feeling a little fatigued about this whole idea of a Fourth of July picnic. But, I thought to myself, the worst is over and I can enjoy the rest of the day.
Either somebody is listening to my thoughts or my thoughts have no merit at all. When we got to the picnic area my wife said, "Okay, unpacked the car and we will get started." With that, she quickly claimed the picnic table with the barbecue grill for our convenience.
Thirty minutes later, I had finally unpacked the car and was about to sit down when further instructions came my way.
"Now," my wife said, "start grilling those hamburgers and hotdogs we brought."
I know that grilling is a man's job, but I would like to meet the person who made this kind of job assignment. Not only am I a terrible griller, but I burn things beyond recognition. Then I have to put up with my wife asking me, "Is this a hamburger or hot dog?"
I do not mind so much her asking that question but it is the way she asks it. Not to mention her laughing when she asks. Then she has the audacity to say, "This is the best hamburger you've ever made. No, wait a minute. This is a hot dog. I'm sorry."
Thirty minutes later when she stops laughing, she says, "Well, I guess it's time to pack up and go home."
Thirty minutes later the car was all packed and we were on the road headed for home. The silence is broken by my wife saying, "I really love Fourth of July picnics."
When I thought about it, I came to the same conclusion. Sure, picnics are a whole lot of work, but then they are a lot of fun as well, the fatigue notwithstanding.
During the Fourth of July celebration, we need to remember that freedom and liberty comes at great cost.
The apostle Paul understood this in the spiritual realm when he writes, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (Galatians 5:1 KJV).
When we cease working for our liberty, we will eventually end up in bondage.
Rev. James L. Snyder