Today is the Fourth of July - always an important holiday. I remember them as a child, and being almost sick with excitement when we'd go with Dad to the fireworks stand to pick out the fireworks we would have for our celebration. You could already smell the smoke in the air from the countless Piccolo Pete's and snakes that had already been set off. The collection in hand, we'd go back home to wait impatiently for darkness - would it NEVER come??? At last: time to party. A few sparklers were first to get the party started. Half afraid, we'd hold them out, and trace patterns with them through the darkness. Sometimes a little spark would feel hot on your hand for a second. Sometimes we'd drop them mid-sparkledance, and they'd play out their sparkle in the grass or on the street (this being the only time we could play in the streeet!), until someone inevitably would step barefoot on a hot sparkler stick. Tragedy for a moment, and then the real show would begin: the fountains and cones. OOOOOooo - was anthing ever more exciting than watching those? (Unless it was being the person to be old enough to light them). Next came the more minor fireworks like the pinwheels, to be followed by the remaining snakes and sparklers. Sometimes a pinwheel would break loose from wherever it was fastened, and sort of chase you around the yard. Scarey! - it was like a piece of fire possessed. All too soon it was over, and time for bed. Sometimes we'd have fireworks as a family in our backyard, and sometimes with neighbor families out in the street. Either way, what a great time!
As we grew up, and fireworks have become illegal in more and more cities, we have become resigned to the community fireworks shows. They're great, and still lots of fun, but nothing can beat the excitement of a small child holding his own sparkler, or a 12 year old finally being old enough to light the fireworks out in the middle of the street. Big stuff.
Whatever you do, take a moment this year to give thanks for this wonderful country, and all that we're blessed with. And say a prayer for all of those brave men and women throughout the world who give their all to protect us. It's more personal for our family: we have my nephew Arron in Iraq, and we all pray for his safe return. He's an amazing young man, who has come very far in this life.
I'll leave you with this favorite memory that LaMar and I have. A few years ago, LaMar's mom was having a get together on the Fourth at her house. LaMar had purchased one large fountain at a fireworks stand in another city (it being illegal in Placentia). Someone else had brought sparklers for all of the kids. We all went to the community fireworks show, but the real excitement for the kids was coming back to the house, and lighting sparklers in the back yard (away from the cops' eyes), and shooting off this one fountain. We finally came back, and commenced to burn up every last sparkler, and then it was the main event: the ONE FOUNTAIN. LaMar lit it, it shot up in a glorious blaze of color, and then, too soon, it was over. One of the nephews, Jason, signed contentedly, and said "Thanks for the firework, Uncle LaMar." Jason, I wished we'd brought 20 of them.