American flag(52801) 1.  Time with family
Holidays typically mean family togetherness, but July 4th is great because it's so laid back.  There usually aren't sacred traditions that must be observed or complicated recipes to follow. 

Think about Christmas.  We all know how complicated that holiday is.  Yes, it's a wonderful time and I love it as much as anyone, but laid back?  Hardly!  Gift shopping, house decorating, putting up the lights and the Christmas tree.  That's just the beginning.  An extensive dinner menu is nearly obligatory, with difficult traditional recipes and lengthy preparations.  Often more than one meal must be planned.  There's a Christmas Eve meal, Christmas morning breakfast or brunch, the big dinner and late night snacks.  Plus the table must be laid out in a festive manner with appropriate china, silver, table linens, candlesticks, and don't forget the holly and the ivy!

Thanksgiving is just as overwhelming.  The turkey crisis hotline is ready to take calls from frantic cooks who are struggling with their bird.  Mandatory lump-free gravy strikes fear into the hearts of cooks everywhere. 

For the 4th of July - Toss some burgers on the grill and pop open a few Cokes.  Relax, play some softball, and enjoy your friends and family. Easy.

2.  No need to buy gifts
Shopping for gifts is nearly a full-time job.  You must first decide who to buy gifts for, determine your budget and what gift is appropriate, then start shopping.  Brave the crowds at the mall or spend hours in front of your computer surfing for the best deals.  By the time you're done, your credit cards are maxed out, and your feet and eyes are ready to give out.

For the 4th of July - Gifts?  What gifts?

3.  Fireworks
Fireworks are unique to the 4th of July.  Who doesn't love fireworks?  The rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air -- it's a delightful and magical nighttime spectacle.  Unless you're at Disney World or a big league baseball game, the 4th of July is about the only time most people get to see fireworks.  I don't mean those stupid firecrackers that your neighbors are setting off in their backyard.  Unfortunately, every year there are plenty of morons who try to burn down their house or blow off a hand.  What's wrong with these people?  Watch the pros do it and save your money. 

4.  Parades
Parades are so much fun and a staple of July 4th activities.  Bands, floats, and fire engines proudly pass in review down the city streets.  Everyone comes out of their houses and stands along the street or camps out on a blanket to watch it all go by. Children run for the candy that is thrown while moms and dads film their kids trooping past.  It's live entertainment, happening now.  We aren't watching TV or manipulating a video game, we're just experiencing life. 

5.  Sales in stores
Again, another staple of holidays.  Fourth of July sales draw shoppers into the stores for outdoor furniture, snacks and much more.

6.  Backyard barbecues and picnics
Food tastes better when you cook it on a grill!  Combine that with all-American classics like potato salad, sweet corn and deviled eggs. Eating outside on a picnic table is even better. 

7.  Community togetherness
Everyone is already out for the parade, then there are lots of activities going on in the park, like concerts, carnivals, contests, and shows.  People bring their blankets, strollers, dogs and coolers to take it all in.  Kids are riding the rides, adults are listening to the band concert, and teenagers meet up to get some serious chat time in - no electronics needed! There is no other time when you see so many of the people that live in your own neighborhood all together in one place.

8. Time to reflect on the great life we have in the United States of America without having to apologize for being patriotic and loving our country
That's what it's all about.  When you think of the fabulous lifestyle that regular Americans enjoy, it's humbling.  We can never be too thankful for the simple pleasures that were purchased with the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors.  Happy 4th of July!