There is something kind of fantastic about a big rainy day on the 5th of July, especially if you live in Utah which has been slowly burning down over the last few weeks. If you did accidentally set any wildfires last night with your illegal fireworks, you should be good because the rain has washed it all away.
I love holidays like the 4th where there is so little expected of me. No gift buying, or prepping or decorating baking of special treats. No programs to prepare for or costumes to make. Like Lindsay said, it is kind of the perfect summer holiday. If all that is required of me is to grill a little food and show up at a parade or firework show, sign me up.
My childhood Fourths were memorable. My Aunt had a store right on University Avenue in Provo where the July 4th Parade is done every year. Getting a prime spot for the parade is a Provo tradition and my cousins would sleep in the store (luckily it was a furniture store so I imagine there were beds) so they could claim a prime spot along the store front. We would run extension cords through the store and cook waffles to eat while we watched the parade. We were young and snarky and it became a competition amongst my cousins to see who could say the funniest thing mocking those who were in the parade. I am sure we would have been ruthless to Chris's axe twirling mountain men. (Sorry Chris - as an adult I would whoop and holler at your boys.) At night we would sit on our front lawn and watch the firework show from the Stadium of Fire which you could see perfectly from our front yard. Our neighbor was an elderly lady and every year she would come out on the lawn and stand and wait for the fireworks to start. She would eventually get impatient and head back inside. As soon as her front door closed, the sky would explode with blue and red star bursts. A few minutes later she would come back out and the fireworks would abruptly stop. She'd stand and wait for a few minutes, staring at the blank sky. Then boredom would set in and she'd head back in. On cue, the fireworks would resume. It would happen like clock work, year after year, and we loved it.
When I was a teenager, my best friend Charlotte's dad was the scenic art director for The Stadium of Fire (or Fiyah! as the theme song would lead you to believe.) and I was lucky enough to be invited along for several years in a row. We would begrudgingly sit through the witty banter by the KSL newscaster who had been roped in to Emcee that year and then roll our eyes at the old people music of The Beach Boys or Gladys Knight and the Pips, occasionally dancing a bit on the grass of the stadium floor. Finally, after what seemed like ages, the sun would set and we could finally see the fireworks spectacular. And if you have never been, it truly is spectacular, and accompanied by an insane, overly dramatic theme song that urges you to "turn and watch the fire burn...higher and hiyeahaha!!!" It rules. With Charlotte's family, there was a certain reverence for the Fourth. Charlotte's mom was incredibly patriotic (we called her The Great Bird) and would inevitably tear up during the fireworks show.
For narrative purposes, I thought this essay would be better with four memories of the Fourth (See what I did there?) But I have zero recollection of celebrating Independence day in college. I went and flipped through a few old photo's and could only find me and a friend (Chanel) making a really ugly cake and then some photos of some other friends playing with sparklers. And that's all I got. College friends -weigh in. Why are these years so blank? I did realize one thing. Pre-digital camera times sucked! If you took a picture and it was lame, you still had to pay to print in and then you were stuck with it.
And now, the Fourth is all about my kids, as most things in my life are. My Father in Law does a big firework blow out in his front yard. My middle son, who is terrified of loud noises and unexpected things runs around the yard and giggles with joy and glee and every whistle and explosion. Its incongruous. This year was no exception. The big finale was a firework called Ghost Patrol that my oldest, Jonah picked out. As we were leaving and everyone was saying thanks to Grandpa who had bought and supplied all of the fireworks, Jonah was quick to remind everyone that they should be thanking HIM because he picked out the best firework. We've raised him well.
I hope your Independence day was full of joy and fun and low expectations and being ignored by parade watchers. And if you accidentally set hundreds of acres of forest on fire, you may be off the hook today!