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Happy 242nd birthday, children. May this July 4th find you full of joy and gratitude, wherever you are in this great land of ours.

Your uncle and I are doing well, all things considered. After all, we’re not as young as we used to be!

But you kids have us worried. Sam and I think you’re being especially bratty and that pains us both.

We know you’re young; your cousins Mr. and Mrs. John Bull keep reminding us their English brood is four times as old and they’ve had no end of problems with them lately, but we expect better of you. That’s why we gave you American Exceptionalism.

Don’t take this wrong, we’re still proud of you, but we think you need to step back and take a good look at yourselves.

So, here goes, and remember, we offer this with love.

First of all, stop bickering so much. Really, children, it’s gotten out of hand! If you keep screaming at one another we’re going to pull the Buckboard over to the curb and nobody goes to DC until you settle down.

I know you think these are hard times, but heavens to Betsy, there have been much worse and you never whined like this!

Really, what more do you imps want? You’ve got the best economy on the planet. People in most of the world would kill for the life you’ve got. Those poor souls to the south of you would die for your privileges, and some of them do, every day.

We’re not saying you have to let anyone in who wants to come here, that’s impossible, but can you at least try to be a little kinder to those folks who try? Nobody likes a bully.

As your Aunt, I especially don’t like the way you’re treating children, and your Uncle says you can’t have it both ways. You can’t moan and groan about your miserable fate while refusing entry to our country because you don’t want to share your good fortune.

Controlling our borders is fine, pretending you live in a swamp at the same time is immature. You’re acting like moody teenagers, nothing satisfies you, everything is bad, boo-hoo-hoo.

Look what you’ve done to the political system we bequeathed you. You’ve soiled it so badly you don’t want to go near it. But whose fault is that?

Now, we don’t want to be too hard on you. You’re still young and young ‘uns make bad choices. But Uncle wants you to “man up” (I don’t like his choice of words, but we’ve been married for centuries so I indulge him. You should follow our example.) He says you made your bed, now sleep in it. If you don’t like it, change the bedding.

But that’s not what worries us most. If you were carrying on, having fun like juvenile delinquents, we’d be upset, but we’d understand. We were young once, you should have seen us cutting up. Oh my goodness, we were bad!

The thing is, we had fun doing it. You kids don’t seem to be having any fun at all. You act like fun and hijinks are beneath you. Maybe you think it makes you look grown up and serious to be so joyless, but it only makes you look spoiled.

We’ve watched your shows, heard your music, read your “posts” or whatever you call them. Goodness gracious, you’d think you were living in the plague years! Anything nice you think is corny, anything hopeful you think is unsophisticated, anything positive is idiotic.

But if it’s gruesome or ugly or cynical, you lap it up like a starving puppy. It seems to us as if you want to feel bad.

Your uncle and I aren’t old sentimental fools; we know that saccharine music and stories are lame.

But we also know that saccharine is not sugar. Life can be sweet, if you let it. Don’t be afraid to be happy and sincere. It will make you happy and sincere.

We don’t want to rain on your parade, children. Especially your July 4th parades. But stop your tears or you’ll snuff out all the pretty fireworks.

And do try to get along. You’ll make more friends, get more done, and be much happier if you do.

But no matter what you do, know that we still love you. You’re the product of our wonderful extended family after all.

Love and happy birthday,

Uncle and Auntie Sam