Wednesday, July 1, 2009

4th of July

While most people in my family love the 4th of July, I’ll have to admit it isn’t my favorite holiday. I like the parades, picnics, homemade ice cream, and family gatherings held to celebrate Independence Day, but I can do without the fireworks. Unfortunately going without fireworks was only an option during the years we lived in Nevada and they were illegal and scary due to the fire danger. Basically, it feels like everyone that I’m related to is a pyromaniac.

My Dad is a pyro going way back to his childhood. Even though they were dirt poor, he and his twin brother would save up their very hard to come by money all year so they could send away for fireworks. When we were young he always managed to find the money for fireworks. It’s safe to say that the fireworks are what make the 4th a great holiday for Dad.

This meant that my childhood was filled with explosions on every 4th. While I did okay and enjoyed, for brief periods, lighting the little firecrackers, smoke bombs, and snakes during the day, I disliked the big booms and sparks that happened at night. I enjoy the pretty colors in the large displays, but that enjoyment was always bittersweet since the big booms always accompanied them. I hated and despised sparklers. Still do. Who in their right mind wants to hold a piece of metal that you light in order to experience it throwing stinging sparks off onto your arm and hand while you have to be careful holding it because now it is burning hot metal? In my mind the new sparklers are still just as evil and dangerous.

My son, Wonder Boy, carries on the tradition. For awhile we lived out in the country on an acreage in a state that allowed fireworks for a week before the fourth. There were far fewer restrictions for rural areas. Wonder Boy would spend the whole week lighting off fireworks. He grudgingly took time off to see family, and then went right back to fireworks as soon as he possibly could. Wonder Boy invented a smoke bomb cannon, where he used a firecracker to shoot a smoke bomb through a piece of pipe. This was one of his more tame inventions.

During this time we lived near my parents. My dad, Grandpa, would be out with Wonder Boy for at least one whole day, lighting off fireworks and blowing things up. The summer before we moved to Nevada there was a drought. It was very dry. I warned Wonder Boy and Dad to be careful, try to stay on the gravel drive with their fireworks, and keep the hoses ready. Imagine my shock when I looked out the front window and saw a big black patch of grass. Wonder Boy and Grandpa had moved on to exploding things in the backyard. They had left something burning and I had a smoldering patch of grass, slowly burning, in my front yard. I manned the hose and, after it was out, yelled at both of them. They sheepishly took the abuse and promised to be more careful.

Hipee likes watching fireworks. I don’t know how keen she is on lighting them. This could be due to her firecracker accident. We all laughed uproariously when it happened, but really, the poor girl hurt herself. The accident happened when we were all standing on the street curb in front of our house in a city. We were lighting off little firecrackers and throwing them into the street to explode. We all had our own punks, a slow burning stick used for lighting firework fuses. Hipee was excited, hopping around, lighting and throwing firecrackers. Then she lit her firecracker but threw the punk. The firecracker blew up in her hand. She cried. We laughed at her. Mom yelled at us and took care of Hipee’s hurt hand. (Even then… lucky to be alive.)

I spent the last 4th happily alone, walking the dogs and protecting them from the fireworks going off in the neighborhood. It seemed like the cop across the street was competing with the guy 2 doors up, who was competing with the neighbors across the street from them. Our street was very noisy. The dogs and I were all understandably nervous with the number of explosions surrounding the house. They did their business quickly, much to all our relief, when we went out. This 4th will be spent the same way, but with an added twist. While the rest of my family heads off for fireworks fun with extended family, I’ll be having a root canal. The long weekend will be spent recovering, reading, walking dogs, consoling dogs during the big booms, and making several batches of soup.

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