When it comes to generosity, we often think of those winter months, when there's static in the air and the treetops are bare. We strain our minds trying to determine what grandma wants most, or what to say if someone asks us what we're pining for this Christmas, because we just know that they're going to go out of their way even if we tell them that we're content with everything we have.
Say? Why do we have those things? What grants us the freedom to give and receive and make our own choices? If we listen, the answers are within the roar of fireworks, and if we really look at the big picture, we see something just as bright and beautiful as a Fourth of July sky. We see the centuries of sacrifice behind every colorful flash.
While seasonal gifts are bought with money and stored away in closets and attics until the day comes to unwrap them, one of the greatest gifts we've ever received is intangible, and we experience it each day. Our freedom doesn't come in a cardboard box with a bow on top; it can't be bought in a store, and if it could, the price tag would be counted in brave actions, not bills.
Too often we forget that change requires sacrifice. Our country's founders knew this, and so did the generations following them; that knowledge and spirit has persisted all the way up to the men and women who now serve. While we may not always agree with political choices and often find ourselves at odds over wars being waged, there should be no question that, however you feel, you feel it as a result of their actions. Whatever the case, for the grander good, the notion of freedom and the protection of it have served as a moral compass, not only for the United States, but also for the world.
We are fortunate to live in a country, and in a county, that produces so many of these fine, upstanding citizens. Even better, in a time when many people will shun patriotism, citing it as "stubborn devotion" and a "tool for propaganda", Tyler County grows more appreciative each year. That appreciation was apparent on this Fourth with each cent donated for fireworks, with each hour our event coordinators put into planning a spectacular tribute and with each wide eye witnessing the reincarnation of "rockets' red glare" and "bombs bursting in air."
Because that's what our patriotism, above all, should be-appreciation for those who are both willing to make and have actually made the ultimate sacrifice, or any sacrifice, not merely for the sake of their country, but to insure that our freedom is upheld.
And while you may not find freedom under a Christmas tree, the next time you hear that expression "Christmas in July", maybe you'll give it a second thought. We're gifted every day, and on the Fourth, we celebrate that lasting generosity.