When I was 12 years old, I spent the 4th of July at my grandparents house in South Carolina. The rest of my family had returned to Florida, but I was finally old enough to stay by myself for a while. With scores of cousins within a five mile radius, I had a phenomenal holiday weekend. That is, of course, until two of my cousins crashed into eachother while riding some little motorcycles my Papa owned. We spent the evening of Independence Day in the emergency room, as xray machines scanned for and counted up various broken bones. We were grateful that the injuries weren't more serious, and everyone recovered so well that the night still lives on in laughed-over stories every time we see eachother.
When I was 13 or 14 years old, we watched the fireworks down below our airplane as we flew home from a family vacation to Hawaii. I don't recall the pyrotechnic display very well, but I do remember the severe jetlag we all experienced. Upon our return home that evening, everyone went to his own room, unpacked, and settled in for bed. A few hours later, around 2am, we were all sitting on my parents' bed, laughing, talking and lamenting the fact that the jetlag was going to be a killer when time finally caught up with us!
When I was 16 years old, my sister and I spend our country's birthday in France (I know, I'm making it sound like we were world travelers, but it was just a couple of busy summers, I guess). Although I made decent grades in high school and my sister by all accounts is incredibly smart, we still managed to make ourselves look like a couple of dumb blonde teenagers when we asked what our French host family's plans were for the 4th. "Umm... pourquoi?"
When I was 20 years old, I asked my parents to invite my boyfriend's family over to help us celebrate the holiday. And I silently prayed that he would find a moment to sneak me away amidst the romantic and dramatic fireworks display to pop "the question". He didn't. But that weekend he did sneak away for a private lunch with my dad to ask for my hand in marriage. Three weeks later, my hubby of 12 years DID ask me to marry him by popping the question on a beautiful beach at sunset.
At 25 years old, I sat with my hubby and our first little one (the dog), watching fireworks from the driveway of our first home. We purchased one of those houses that made me think of the song, "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds every time I pulled down our street. I'm not sure they were made out of ticky tacky, but they all looked just the same. It was the perfect place to start, and my memories of 3 summers there are fond ones.
Two summers ago, we spent the evening watches six different beach cities' shows from our perch along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico with my husband's family. My firstborn (Drew... not the dog) sat still with his uncle's Coast Guard earphones covering his entire head as the rest of the cousins danced around with sparklers. A few weeks ago, while we were picnicking together during our trip to Alabama, we laughed over the big hole in my brother-in-law's big picnic blanket... left over from an errant sparkler "spark" that night.
And tonight, I reflect on another great holiday for the memory book. We started the way I vote to start every 4th of July from now on... at church! Then we made our way to my parents' house where we ate hot dogs and played pool games and video games until Miss M (and Aunt Emmy) crashed. Tonight, we just hung out together as a family. Drew and the dog whimpered in various corners of the house every time a boom was heard. My hubby and I rolled our eyes at the pair of them then snuck out of the house to watch the neighborhood show after everyone was settled into bed.
And since the holiday has been extended into tomorrow for my husband's job, we're going to get up in the morning and just keep on celebrating.
I always think a birthday should be drawn out for days anyway.
Happy Birthday, America!