Confused about Independence? Parade Anyway!

One of many Norman Rockwell illustrations that tweak American values. Image from Saturday Evening Post.

Maybe the United States was always just people who liked to party! Looking at the history of why this day is celebrated, July 4th in particular, I came across many pictures of people marching, making speeches, and eating, but also so many claims that were kinda sorta not quite right. Maybe it’s buried in our history (oh, in everybody’s history) to blur those pesky details and bring on the fireworks.

To digress a moment, last in night in Zumba class, our instructor as usual picked something inspirational to stretch at the end. She likes themes of “celebrate yourself” or “be good to others”; Bob Marley works well. Last night, she decided to play “God Bless the USA,” because it was the day before July 4th. But that song is a jingoistic, uber-Christian celebration of the military. She even interjected at the end, perhaps sensing the over-the-topness of the sentiment– “the world, too, not just the USA” — but of course that misses the point of the song, which is that America is Number One and Everyone Can Suck It Because They Don’t Have Our Freedoms. And I’m looking around at a room, full of the diversity of the East Bay (Asian, Latino, Russian, Black, White, and all things between), 100% full of people whose ancestors were immigrants. We do all bless the U.S.A., but NOT for the reasons that the singer was espousing. This is SUCH a confusing country. Yet, from the time we declared Independence Day, the people in this country were always going in multiple directions at the same time, so maybe it all fits.

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Quick N EZ Thanksgiving

If you really want an easy turkey, buy it pre-cooked…

Photo from

…pre-rolled up, maybe even pre-extruded, like these Foster Farms beauties. Nothin’ says EZ TurKY like a bird that looks like sausage.

Photo from Foster Farms website.

If you really want an easy turkey, how about Turkey Spam? MM…Spam and Beans, Spam and Stuffing. What about Spam ‘n’ stuffing with your pre-extruded turkey roll?

There’s always a turkey spam/roll taco bar. Everybody likes a taco bar!

How about a hot fudge sundae bar? Skip the turkey and vegetables and make it easy and yourself and everyone. Everyone loves a sundae bar!!!!

It’s that time of year, when the foodie experts are full of helpful hints to make your holiday easier. And much of it isn’t going to make your life easier whatsoever. Either that or all this pre-cooking, pre-microwave, just-heat-up-at-the-last-minute by adding seven other things isn’t going to make it easier. So, here is my evaluation of all these “Easiest Thanksgiving Ever” hints that are designed to make your life harder.

Plus, at the end, I’ll share my amazing and impressive turkey flow chart, and that will make it all clear for you!

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Happy Juhannus

Author’s note: an oldie but a goodie. Happy Midsummer!

Celebrate Juhannus 2018
Midsummer celebration, design from

I spent summers as a kid at a place called the Finn Camp in the woods of suburban Detroit. The summer program was swim lessons in the morning, drama rehearsals in the afternoon, saunas on the weekends, and a lot of tag played on and underneath the docks of the lake. At the end of each school year, I lived in great anticipation for the start of all this in mid June, after the solstice party called Juhannus.

Solstice celebrations, which happen between June 19 and 21, are curiously named “Midsummer” events. In the U.S., summer is tightly linked to the school year, and most children’s seasonal school year ends near the beginning of June. So, why isn’t it the Begin Summer celebration?

The summer solstice occurs when the earth’s tilt is at maximum toward the sun in your hemisphere. In the north, we’re as close to the sun as we’re going to get during the year on that day. Daylight will be the longest–maybe you’ve felt the sky lightening earlier in the morning as you get your coffee or seen the sun peeking through the kitchen window long after dinner. After tomorrow, the daylight hours will start getting shorter again. In that sense, you could say that we’re at the “mid” point; the year is all downhill from here.

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