My Independence Day

I’ve always had an ambivalent relationship to the Fourth of July. Like everyone whose birthday is also a major holiday, I’ve felt resentful at the fact that the anniversary of my birth falls on a day when everyone’s attention is occupied with another hugely important celebration.

Not only was I born on an important national holiday, but I was born on arguably the single most significant American holiday there is. The only other American holiday that approaches that level of national significance is Thanksgiving Day — and at least on Thanksgiving Day I am or have usually been with friends or family.

On July 4, everyone is out of town. Even people (like me) who do not go in for all the “patriotic” hoopla are likely to go off for a long weekend, or visit family, or whatever, but whatever they do, they’re not around. School is out, businesses are closed, and most Americans have the day off, unless their work is 24/7, like law enforcement or hospitals. It’s easy to forget or overlook a July 4th birthday.

Then again, I like the reaction I invariably get when people find out my birthday is July 4. They exclaim; they say things like “Hey! You’re a firecracker baby!” or “So all those fireworks are for you, eh?” or “That’s fun; the whole country celebrates your birthday.” I laugh, I feel tickled and pleased; I feel special and unique — one of a kind. I also share my birthday with some very famous Americans: Dear Abby and Ann Landers, Louis B. Mayer, Neil Simon, George Steinbrenner, Rube Goldberg, Calvin Coolidge, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Stephen Foster, Eva Marie Saint. George M. Cohan was not born on the 4th of July, despite his family’s best efforts to move his birthday up by a day. And no, neither was Tom Cruise — to my everlasting relief.

I also get a kind of perverse satisfaction from my birth date. I often tell people — when I think they are likely to appreciate the irony — that being born on July 4th was God’s little joke on me, because I am the least conventionally patriotic person I know. I can’t stand flag-waving American chauvinists — and I was born on the biggest flag-waving day of the year. No one can say the universe doesn’t have a sense of humor.

On this Fourth of July, I am 57 years old. Sixty is breathing down my neck, and I have to say, it’s a number I cannot even begin to imagine associating with me.

But that’s three years away, right? For today, I’m 57 — and hoping that the next 12 months do not go by at quite the speed the last 12 months have.

Cross-posted at Liberty Street.


Filed under 05_kathy

18 responses to “My Independence Day

  1. Today is the 121 anniversary of my paternal Grandfather’s birth and my grandnephew’s (my brother’s grandson) 2nd birthday so, as far as I’m concerned, you’re in good company!

  2. Brynn

    Happy happy birthday!!! I hope you’re having a wonderful day and are surrounded by love and cake and pressies! Or your equivalent of them!

  3. …being born on July 4th was God’s little joke on me, because I am the least conventionally patriotic person I know.

    “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

    — Albert Einstein

    (Happy Birthday, Kathy!)

  4. Happy birthday Sweets. And 60 ain’t so much. Gettin past the big 70 was the hard one. (So far at least.)

  5. Kathy Kattenburg

    Thank you, everyone. 🙂

  6. Paul the Spud

    Happy Birthday!

  7. Happy birthday, dood.

  8. Kathy Kattenburg

    I love you all. 🙂

  9. Happy birthday! Mine is June 14th (Flag Day), but there’s no comparing that to the 4th of July. Then again, when I was a tiny tot and all the world revolved around me, I thought people hung flags up just for my birthday and my parents indulged me in my delusion.

    So…all those fireworks tonight are celebrating you, m’dear. 🙂

  10. Kate Harding

    Happy birthday, Kathy!!

  11. Happy birthday to ya. 🙂

  12. Baby, I’m here on your 4th. However you want to celebrate it is strictly up to you

  13. Happy Birthday Firecracker Baby 🙂

  14. amish451

    “…least conventionally patriotic person I know …”

    Though right ‘here’ is an alliance of unconventional patriots ….

    Happy Birthday Sweetheart …at 57, your just starting a good roll …. J

  15. Arkades

    Happy Birthday Kathy!

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