Labor Day is a holiday that appeals to a majority of Americans. Most Americans work for a living, and most laborers get Labor Day off from work. The recent holiday made me think of which holidays are recognized and celebrated by the most Americans.

Independence Day is likely the holiday celebrated by the most Americans. Each American recognizes and celebrates the Fourth of July in their own way, even if fireworks aren’t available. Memorial Day is also recognized and celebrated by many Americans because most Americans know someone who’s served in the military, and again, many people get the day off.

Upon a recent visit to the dollar store, though, I was excited to see Thanksgiving decorations being put on display. While Halloween is still nearly two months away, I feel Thanksgiving, like Independence Day, is one of those holidays that’s most recognized and celebrated due to its mass appeal -- something Christmas and Easter can’t offer.

Thanksgiving doesn’t get the respect Christmas and Easter get, but you too can make your family members rethink the relative importance of the holiday. While Christmas and Easter only appeal to Christians, Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans, regardless of religious preference. Even atheists can enjoy Thanksgiving, and I think it’s more important to recognize how thankful we are for the sacrifices of the locals who made America possible than to recognize the birth, murder and rebirth of a man perceived to be the son of God.

As an atheist, I don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter. While the holidays are unavoidably happening around me, I don’t allow myself (or sometimes anyone else) enjoy them. Don’t get me wrong, I give Christmas presents to my immediate family and closest friends, but I give my family and friends gifts regardless of season or reason. There need not be an occasion to give, and as a socialist, I believe that wholeheartedly.

Thanksgiving is a celebration of socialism. It’s the celebration of a bunch of helpless, lost explorers being saved by locals willing to share. Since Thanksgiving is a socialist holiday, every attendee of my Thanksgiving Extravaganza (A.T.E. for Anthony’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza) is encouraged to bring something -- anything -- to share. Whether you have something old you don’t need that someone else might, or a book you’ve read that you think someone would find helpful or entertaining, you can share it with someone at A.T.E. who needs it more than you. You can also bring food for the traditional Thanksgiving meal, of course.

It’s not just the sharing that I love about Thanksgiving. It’s the days spent cooking. I find cooking and baking very rewarding. Your time in the kitchen is an opportunity to be artistic and improvisational. You try new things and learn a trade that will come in handy the rest of your life. It’s even therapeutic. I spend most of my days off from work in the kitchen, and with football on in the background all day, I can spend 12 hours in a kitchen on Thanksgiving and hardly notice.

Losing football on Thanksgiving would be as detrimental to the holiday as losing Easter eggs on Easter or Christmas trees on Christmas. I’ve never experienced a Thanksgiving without football and never want to. Football will be forever linked with my celebration of Thanksgiving because during A.T.E.’s Thanksgiving Tailgate, the kids open Thanksgiving stockings stuffed with stocking stuffers. The stockings are football socks filled with candy and small gifts.

We do Thanksgiving baskets at A.T.E., too. They’re like Easter baskets but, again, themed Thanksgiving. You might find an Easter biscuit shaped like a turkey or a plastic Easter egg filled with coupons for services to be rendered. There is no exchange of cash at A.T.E., but there is a gift exchange. Each attendee is asked to bring a gift or gifts valued at no more than $16.21 (the year of the first Thanksgiving) to be given to the person or persons in attendance for whom they’re most thankful.

There is no Black Friday shopping that occurs at my celebration of Thanksgiving, either. The only money spent during A.T.E. goes to the locals who saved white lives only to be forced from their homes in return. A.T.E. concludes with a journey to the nearest Indian casino, so attendees can show how thankful they are for the locals saving their ancestors’ lives by losing some of what their ancestors stole back to the locals.

Here’s my itinerary for A.T.E. You can use it as a model for your own Thanksgiving celebration. Next year, I hope to have a fireworks display to make my Thanksgiving rival any American holiday.

Inaugural A.T.E. Itinerary

November 23, 2017

9:30 AM to 11 AM: Thanksgiving Tailgate/Thanksgiving Stockings and Baskets

A traditional football tailgate with a traditional tailgate breakfast -- burgers, brats, beers and a Bloody Mary bar. This will also be when we open Thanksgiving stockings and Thanksgiving baskets.

11 AM to 3 PM: Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

We’ll watch the Vikings destroy the Lions on the big screen.

3 PM to 6 PM: Los Angeles Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys

We’ll watch the Cowboys destroy the Chargers, which shouldn’t take long.

6 PM to 7 PM: Thanksgiving Dinner

Your typical Thanksgiving dinner, with vegetarian options as well, and enough pumpkin pie to feed us for weeks.

7 PM to 7:30 PM: Thanksgiving Gift Exchange

We’ll give our gifts to those for whom we’re most thankful.

7:30 PM to 9:30 PM: New York Giants @ Washington Racial Slurs

We’ll watch the Giants destroy the Racial Slurs while rooting for the Racial Slurs, because it’s Thanksgiving. This will also be the time designated for tryptophan naps and games.

9:30 PM - ???: Voyage to the Native(’s) Land

We’ll go to the casino, where we have rooms reserved. If you’d like to reserve a room for yourself and your party, you can do so by letting your host know.

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Day of Independence

Despite the fact that in 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday -- here I am. At work. Writing about the paid federal holiday.

 

Which is my choice. I have come in on a national holiday for the sole purpose of entertaining you. The dear reader. On a day, traditionally, where pretty much no one reads news.

 

That’s just how I roll.

 

Um, that’s great. So why are you here, then?

 

Because it’s the Day of Independence. We get plenty of the 4th of July in movies and they usually revolve around alien invasions or overly patriotic war movies. To celebrate the day -- some of us watch fireworks. Most of us eat -- like, a lot. Case in point, when I leave work I will attend two separate grilling events! Because the 4th of July, like many holidays, has been watered down to mean nothing more than food (and in this case -- fireworks).

 

Such is life.

 

But it’s not just a day to eat fine grillery and to watch fireworks with kids. It’s also the celebration of the exact date when members of Congress signed the Declaration of Independence way back in 1776 and began the Revolutionary War!

 

Er -- well -- that’s not exactly true, either.

 

That sounds suspicious. And anti-American. What are you talking about?

 

Well, we celebrate the signing of our Independence on July 4th, so it would reason that the signing happened on -- well -- July 4th. But that’s a bit historically unclear. In 1776, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2nd, not the 4th. Then, Congress debated the wording of the Declaration of Independence for two days, finally approving it on July 4th. John Adams, one of our fine founding fathers, wrote to his wife Abigail:

 

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

 

Okay. So Adams thought we should be celebrating on July 2nd, not the 4th. To further complicate matters, most historians conclude that the Declaration was not actually signed -- until nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2nd, 1776.  

 

So maybe we should celebrate on August 2nd?

 

To even further complicate matters -- the Colonies had already been at war with the British for a year! Which means the Revolutionary War began before Congress formally declared independence. Perhaps we should celebrate Independence Day on the first day of the Revolutionary War, which would be -- The Shot Heard Round the World -- on April 19th, 1775?

 

So it’s all a little murky and for some reason we have latched onto July 4th as the day, and that’s what it shall remain for as long as we are around. For better or worse, Brexit 1776 is now, and forever will be -- that 4th day in July.

 

And to that I say to you -- Happy Independence Day. On July 4th.

 

Uh-oh. You’re going to end with something depressing, aren’t you?

 

Well, we should also try to remember that any country's independence is filled with, not just patriots and parades, but also fraught with death and bloodshed. Or in the case of our country -- genocide and slavery. I am not trying to push a moral platitude, just a reminder that there is always a price.

 

The founding fathers politically paved the way for our independence. I also believe that the disenfranchised, the downtrodden and the displaced are as equally as responsible for our independence, since we built the country on their backs or on their graves. I wish I could offer them more than empty words. And fireworks.

 

 

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If you live in western America, fireworks might be banned due to fire restrictions in your area. I know you can’t even buy fireworks in my hometown this year because of the high fire danger due to an extreme drought in Eastern Montana.

Just because there are no fireworks doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Independence Day, though. There’s plenty you can do with your day off that is still patriotic while being less flammable and less expensive. Here are a few things you can do in lieu of fireworks on Independence Day.

1. Host a party

Thanks to social media, it’s never too late to host a party. You can create an event on Facebook or Google+ in minutes and have people over for fun and games. Have guests bring an item for a potluck. Hit the local store and buy some party favors in red, white and blue.

Play Bocci or do something truly American and throw a baseball around or shoot some hoops. You can even spray paint a Twister board on the lawn in non-toxic, red, white and blue marking chalk. Yard games like cornhole and the ladder golf ball toss are fun for kids and adults alike, and you can make them yourself at home and have them ready overnight. My favorite and the favorite of our family’s is the “original” washer toss game. It’s a pair of carpeted boards with three holes into which you toss large washers from 10 feet away. Some call it Texas horseshoes apparently. Follow the links to do it yourself.

2. Hit the gun range

If you still want that feeling of American patriotism flowing through your veins that only exploding artillery provides, go down to the local gun club or shooting range and fire off a few rounds in succession. Print some fun targets like Osama Bin Laden’s face or a poster of his entire body and tape it together. Then unload like you’re fighting for America’s independence all over again. I assure you this will help you forget about there being no fireworks.

3. Go fishing

If you live near water, there’s nothing like taking a day to go fishing. Anyone can do it, and it’s the ultimate relaxation activity. You can even bring a small, gas grill and cooler with you to have a barbecue. You can even bring a small, gas grill and cooler with you to have a barbecue. You can get all the information you need regarding fishing licenses and permits by visiting here.

4. Volunteer

I know what you’re thinking: “The last thing I want to do with my day off is work.” But volunteering to help a fellow American who’s less fortunate enjoy Independence Day is far more fulfilling than fireworks. Here are some volunteer events happening in America on the Fourth of July.

You could also help out a military family in your neighborhood. Feed them lunch or put together a care package for a member of your community who’s serving overseas. You can even write them a letter, or write a letter to the family of a veteran who was lost to a war or conflict. Visit the local nursing homes and speak to a veteran, or visit a VFW or American Legion club and buy a veteran a drink.

Volunteering could be as simple as going to a local park where the homeless frequent and barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers for them. Veterans account for nearly eight percent of the homeless population after all. Bring some voter registration cards and call it a voter registration drive. You can print voter registration cards from your Secretary of State’s website. Even people without an address have the right to vote. You can use the address of the nearest shelter if someone doesn’t have a place where they receive mail.

5. Attend a parade

Parades happen almost everywhere in America on the Fourth of July. Chances are the main street in your town will be shut down for an Independence Day Parade. Check it out. You’ll score a bunch of free schwag and candy and the kids will have a blast.

6. Attend a fireworks display in the area

If you must have your fireworks then you can get in the car and drive. Just because fireworks are banned where you live doesn’t mean there isn’t a fireworks display nearby. In the case of Eastern Montana, that’s exactly the case, though. But for others, you might be just a few hours away from a fireworks display. Use this map to find one in your area. Searching “fireworks displays near me” on Google will also give you more local options.

So that's what to do in lieu of fireworks on Independence Day. Don’t let the lack of fireworks get you down and take action now to make this Fourth of July one you and those around you will never forget.

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