Once upon a time, in the town of Mount Christmas, the Ombazi family was celebrating Christmas Eve in a private dining room at the Joyous Delights restaurant. The nearly 50 guests had just finished a delicious feast, and they were all having a great time. Kids and grandparents danced along to a silly song about a family of sharks. Teams of relatives faced off in a lively card game. Cousins played charades, while aunts and uncles told hilarious stories.
However, one beloved member of the family was absent. Jaëlle, who was a famous pop singer, had spent the last few years performing all around the world. The downside of her fame was that she regularly missed important family events, such as the wedding of her cousin, Tatiana.
The Ombazis were very proud of Jaëlle, but they missed her terribly. The young woman always knew how to liven up a party. She could turn even the dullest basement karaoke party into a dynamic performance where every singer felt like a star.
As midnight approached, eager guests of all ages gathered around the Christmas tree to await the arrival of Santa Claus. It was tradition for the jolly old elf to hand out presents. As they waited, a few older relatives relived fond memories of holidays past.
That’s when Octave appeared. Every year, the town’s magical cardinal would visit every holiday party to wish the families of Mount Christmas health and happiness. Often, people would ask the bird to sing a song with his incredible voice. According to legend, he never sings out of tune.
“Please sing something for us, Octave,” the Ombazis requested.
“Gladly,” the bird replied, approaching the microphone. “I’d like to perform a lovely piece that I’m sure you’ve heard.”
As Octave sang the first few notes, the crowd immediately recognized the song. It was Jaëlle’s latest hit, Family is Sacred. Soon, everyone was snapping their fingers, clapping their hands and stomping their feet to the catchy tune. For the final chorus, the group sang along together. It was a heartwarming moment that brought tears to many people’s eyes.
Suddenly, the front door swung open. It was Santa Claus!
“Ho, ho, ho,” he exclaimed. “Good evening, Ombazi family. Are you ready for your gifts?”
“Yes,” they replied with applause.
“Excellent,” Santa said. “But since there are so many of you, I’ll need my assistant Star Fairy to help me. Oh, Star Fairy!”
Everyone turned to watch the arrival of Santa’s assistant. It was Jaëlle! What a wonderful surprise.
The pop star ran over to Tatiana and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“You know,” Jaëlle said, “when I sing Family is Sacred, I really mean it.”
All the guests were cheering and jumping with joy. Octave, who had planned the whole surprise, watched from above with a smile.
By Sarah Beauregard and Johannie Dufour / Translated by Katya Teague
U.S. Census Bureau: Celebrating 245 Years of America
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As we celebrate this Independence Day, we reflect on how our Founding Fathers enshrined in our Constitution the importance of statistics as a vital tool for measuring America.
The following facts are possible thanks to responses to U.S. Census Bureau surveys.
Did You Know?
The estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation in July 1776.
Source: Historical Statistics of the United States: 1789-1945
The nation’s population on April 1, 2020.
Source: 2020 Census
The number of signers of the Declaration of Independence.
It is also worth noting that:
John Hancock, a merchant by trade, was the first signer. In 2019, more than 1 million business establishments nationally with paid employees like Hancock were in the retail trade industry.
Source: 2019 Geography Area Series: County Business Patterns, Table CB1900CBP
Benjamin Franklin, who represented Pennsylvania, was the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence at age 70. Pennsylvania had a resident population of 13,002,700 on April 1, 2020. Edward Rutledge of South Carolina was the youngest signer at age 26. South Carolina had a resident population of 5,118,425 on April 1, 2020
Source: 2020 Census
Counties and census incorporated places that contain the word “Liberty” in the name.
Source: Vintage 2019 Population Estimates
Counties that have “Union” in the name.
Source: Vintage 2019 Population Estimates
The national happy march satisfies the urge to conduct the band
If you are older, you may not have heard it for a while. If you are younger, you may never have heard it.
Either way, on July 4, find The Stars & Stripes Forever and listen. You’ll want to conduct the band with abandon and smash the cymbals.
It’s a giant, jubilant march, with stirring lyrics which, for fun, you can also substitute for a duck song (Be kind to your web-footed friends…).
John Philip Sousa — Marine, musician, and bandleader — was returning to the United States from a vacation in Italy in 1896. It was Christmas Day and from the deck of an ocean liner, he heard the march in his head.
“Suddenly, I began to sense the rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain,” Sousa wrote in his autobiography Marching Along, “It kept on ceaselessly playing … the imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distinct melody.
“I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached the shore I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed,” he wrote.
The song repeats distinct melodies in sections, called strains, using different instruments to repeat and lead. So the song begins with a hearty introduction by the horns with great smashing beats on drums, followed by the melody. Woodwinds repeat, and later, the famous response of the piccolos. The trombones thunder in with a bold counter melody. Then, the entire band plays together — and, by then, we’re all marching.
While it is the official national march of the United States, the tune has also been adopted by soccer fans in the UK, sung as ‘Here We Go,’ once called a working-class march. Cartoon character Popeye fought bad guys to the song. Comedians invented the duck lyrics. The Grateful Dead played it to retire.
One strange Stars & Stripes Forever fact: Circuses in the early 20th century loved to fire up the crowd with march music, but they never played The Stars & Stripes Forever. This tune was a secret signal, only played when a life-threatening disaster was imminent. When they heard it, emergency personnel would try to quietly disperse the crowd, not always successfully.
Franklin’s quip reveals the high stakes of independence
It was a blast heard around the world, a declaration of treason as much as independence by a handful of colonists living on the other side of the Atlantic from the most powerful country in the world.
Congress in America voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. A month later, on August 2, they signed the document. Eight days after that, the English King had a copy.
Following the natural rights theory of John Locke, the document proclaimed the equality of ‘all men’ and their ‘unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ Thomas Jefferson, helped by others, wrote that governments were established to secure these rights; when they failed to do so, the people could abolish them.
That last bit was a nice thought, but King George III would disagree.
And so, at the signing of the Declaration, John Hancock worried that some would lose heart and their fire for independence would wane. He said, “We must all hang together.”
Always the sharp wit, Benjamin Franklin smiled and said, “Or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”
The love between a father and his child
Across the country, families will be celebrating Father’s Day on June 20th this year. This is the day when you can tell your dad how much you love him. It’s also a great time to show him how grateful you are for everything he has done for you.
He taught you how to ride a bike. He helped you with your homework and encouraged you to work hard and succeed. He listened when you were going through tough times and found words of comfort. He guided you and showed you the “right path.” He shared his positive values. He showed his love for you in a million ways. Now is the time to let him know that you appreciate and love him.
If he has given you that much, it is because he, too, benefitted enormously from the love that ties him to you. Contact with his children provides a father with intense happiness and incomparable satisfaction. He also becomes a better person thanks to this special contact. It makes him more aware of his emotions, and he learns how to express his feelings. He makes a connection with the world of children that helps him stay young.
This relationship of mutual benefits serves to bring a father and his children closer. This is a link that will never be broken. Regardless of the age of your father, show him all the tenderness that you feel for him and celebrate Father’s Day with love and happiness.
How to celebrate Dad with a special meal
This year for Father’s Day, celebrate your dad by offering him a meal he’ll savor and enjoy. Here are a few different ways you can spoil him at suppertime.
• Five-course dinner. Offer Dad a whole gastronomical experience starting with an amuse-bouche followed by an appetizer. After, serve up a delicious main course. Then, set out a cheese plate before ending with his favorite dessert.
• Barbecue. If the weather’s nice, take advantage of it by cooking outside on the grill. Choose a dish that suits Dad’s tastes and matches your culinary talents, whether it’s burgers, surf, and turf, perfectly seasoned ribs, or a variety of skewers.
• Catered affair. Opt for a meal you don’t have to cook by hiring a local catering company. This is also a great option if you can’t see your father in person. You can select a supper he likes and have it delivered to his home.
• Restaurant. Dining out is a simple way to celebrate the occasion. In addition to their regular fare, many restaurants create special Father’s Day menus. If you prefer to eat at home, order a meal for pickup or delivery.
To serve Dad a meal he’ll remember, there’s no shortage of options. Just be sure to plan ahead, so you can be certain he’ll have all his favorites.
Father’s Day is June 20th: A gift for every type of dad
If you’re wondering what to get your dad for Father’s Day, it’s a good idea to consider his hobbies and interests. Here are some suggestions for different kinds of dads.
The movie buff
If space permits, your dad might appreciate a vintage film projector or studio lamp. Alternatively, consider getting him a movie-themed trivia game, a scratch-off poster, or a collectible figurine from his favorite flick. There are also many great reads about film history and culture.
One way to impress a dad who loves to cook is by spoiling him with new kitchen accessories. Consider buying him a quality cutting board, Japanese chef knives, barbecue utensils, or a new apron. If your dad has a green thumb, another option is to get him potted herbs he can grow outside or in the kitchen.
If your dad is a stamp enthusiast, he’ll likely appreciate a magnifier to help with identification or a UV lamp to assist with observing phosphorescent markings. For the father who collects coins, consider getting him a rare or commemorative piece, a specialized storage album, a magnification loupe, or a cleaning bath for his coins.
The dad who enjoys spending time in nature is likely to welcome getting a set of hiking poles, an engraved compass, a pair of waterproof binoculars, or a wilderness survival handbook. Alternatively, check to see if some of his camping, hunting, or fishing gear could use an upgrade.
The music lover
For the dad with a passion for music, buy a water-resistant portable speaker, wireless headphones, or a guitar pick maker. Alternatively, get him a music-themed keepsake such as a wall clock depicting his favorite band, drink coasters that look like CDs or records, or cuff links shaped like a treble clef or the instrument he plays.
For more Father’s Day gift ideas, visit the specialty stores in your area to find one-of-a-kind products and services.