When I was a kid, the Fourth of July was a big, exciting deal. It started early in the afternoon at my aunt and uncle’s house with swimming. Later, there would be dinner, and then my cousins and I would collectively lose our mind over fireworks. If we were very, very lucky, there’d be night swimming. As I got older a lot of the excitement over the holiday was replaced with fear over gunshots, illegal firework injuries, and house fires. This year, even after the holiday was over, I was awakened several times by loud, certainly illegal booms, at three o’clock in the morning. Some I didn’t just hear, I felt. As a holiday, it’s become somewhat terrifying.
Now much of my joy in the holiday comes from watching the kids enjoy it in the same way I used to. The holiday still sparkles with water and fire. This year drove deep into the remote countryside of Denair to celebrate. (Actually, Denair is a suburban hamlet in a rural area that isn’t remote at all, but as I lack all cell phone service I feel like I may as well be in the middle of a National Park.)
The day started off with water as the next generation of kids played in the pool and sprinklers.
As the sun began to set, we dried them off, fed them a snack, and got them back in their clothes. Then we moved to the front yard for our own private firework show.
My cousin plied the kids with a seemingly endless supply of sparklers, which intimidated Isobel at first, but by the end she wielded two sparklers at once like an expert fire dancer.
I always seem to have an abundance of glow sticks on my person (this year’s stock were leftovers from this project), and the past couple years it’s been my tradition to bring a plethora of them to add to the firework-watching experience.
Elias was old enough this year to sit outside and watch the show, which he was totally into as long as he was in my lap. And I mean, I was not allowed to get up for a second, or my totally calm baby turned into crazypants meltdown baby. But he felt safe in my lap, so there he stayed. He enjoyed the glow stick bounty, and held on to his stoically as he watched the show.
We had a perfect view of three other firework shows happening around us: two clearly professional, and one clearly illegal. We stopped our little show several times to watch the sky. My cousin passed out ice cream sandwhiches and we cuddled on blankets spread across the grass. When the kids weren’t dancing to the flashing fireworks and waving their glow sticks around, they were covering their ears in anticipation of unnecessarily loud fireworks.
The unsung hero of this and many July Fourth celebrations in the patriotic ladder, which somehow avoids being blown up year after year. Happy America, ladder!