Spinning Tales: The Anatomy of a Holiday

By Dennis L. Morgan


The Fourth of July holiday has come and gone. Across the country, friends and families gathered to celebrate by grilling burgers, drinking cold fluids of questionable composition, and burning firepower in assorted colors and sounds.

Each of us has a timeline which we adhered to on this day, each tells a particular story.

6:30 a.m. — Lynell wakes me up and asks “do you want to go with me to help with the Lions food stand or do you want me to go alone?” I said ‘no’ but it quickly became ‘yes’ because I know she does many things for me even though they may not be what she wants to do. I was in the shower moments later, dressed and ready to head out the door.

6:40 a.m. — The trip to Neligh is suddenly put on ‘hold’ when we realize Lucky Dog is loose on the streets of Elgin, having sneaked out an open door. Lynell puts on a rain poncho and I jump in the car as the search begins. Having buzzed through Lucky’s normal flight path and seeing no signs of the four-legged beast, we head east. We catch a break when we turn south and see a black and white dog just east of Tony Levander’s house. A neighbor’s dog barks and Lucky wanders over to the kennel to check out the action. With a little luck, Lynell gets Lucky back on a leash. All told, she was gone maybe 10 minutes, but Lucky has done her best to wake up the neighborhood.

7:25 a.m. — We arrive at the Leigh Lions Club building and begin serving pancakes and sausage to the hungry masses. Money raised every year on the Fourth of July goes to fund scholarships and other worthy activities of the club. Gale Mahnke is Mr. Pancake man this morning. I nickname him ‘Flipper,’ he doesn’t seem to mind sharing the name with the world’s most famous dolphin. My job is to place three little sausages on each plate of pancakes. Not a tough task, put the sausages on the plate already loaded with pancakes and say, “here you are” and “thank you.” Lynell is a member of the club and I agreed to help, believing they needed some additional help due to the shortage of people able to work early on.

10:15 a.m. — With the breakfast surge finished, I return home and Lynell stays in Neligh to help with the lunch program. Finding a spot on the leather couch, I fade in and out of consciousness over the next two hours, waiting for the call to come and get her. On the television, Rafael Nadal steam rolls a Czech nobody to win his second Wimbledon tennis title. Nadal looks nearly unbeatable. I barely remember the feeling but it didn’t come on the tennis courts or the golf course, but on the intramural fields of Kearney State College.

2:30 p.m. — The call finally comes and I load Lucky in the car and head back to Neligh. Lynell gets into the car and says the Lions had a good turnout, raising more than $1,100 serving breakfast and lunch. Lucky demands to stick her head out the window so she can enjoy Neligh through her nostrils. What is it about dogs riding in vehicles? Almost everyone who has a dog will, at one time or another, transport their pet in the backseat of a car or the rear of a pickup. One lady once said dogs are experiencing the sense of flight when going down the highway. But how can dogs do that when they’ve never known what flight is? Instead, watching most dogs enjoying the moment, I think they feel like they are “King of the World!”

5 p.m. — Back home, we watch the movie “New Moon,” part of the Twilight series. Lynell puts some steaks on the grill and we enjoy our version of a ‘Fourth of July’ feast. I’d really like to know how much propane gas and how many charcoals are used to cook food on this day. I think the number would be astronomical.

Afterwards, I take Lucky for a walk. She, like most dogs, doesn’t like fireworks. In the case of my dog, she gets ‘spooked’ every time she hears one go off. To help ease her nerves, I keep a radio on in the basement set to a classic rock station to dilute the sounds. That, and making sure she takes care of ‘business’ before the shooting begins, helps to make the week more bearable for our canine.

8 p.m. — Here comes the texts. Not having checked Facebook for most of the day, there are a ton of messages wishing everyone a happy Independence Day. Almost all include some reference to firecrackers and fuses, all of these appear to have double meanings. One particular message comes from New Zealand. Tascha writes about having celebrated yesterday (New Zealand is on the other side of the timeline; meaning while its July 4 here, its July 5 there). She pledges to celebrate again tonight and to drink a toast to her Rotary foreign exchange parents. Tascha would be best described as one-part Cameron Diaz, one-part Julia Louis-Dreyfus and two parts blonde bombshell. Yes, she was a challenge when she lived in our home, similar to what many parents go through with their teenage daughters today.

11 p.m. — For us, Independence Day comes to an end as the lights go out. Fireworks can still be heard off in the distance. It’s a great holiday to celebrate, but because of the noise involved, I am always glad to see it come to an end. 

The next holiday we will be celebrating will be Labor Day which also coincides with the start of the Husker football season. Bring it on!