Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We don't celebrate the 4th of July

My sister called me a few weeks ago.  She was at our parents' house visiting with her kids.  Apparently, in Ohio, you're not allowed to purchase fireworks. 

Shazam.

I had no idea such a thing existed!

My pyro-technic-pyromaniac brother (who shall remain nameless, but let us recall that he set fire to a tree stump in our neighbor's back yard when he was younger than seven?) would have certainly heart failure if he had to live there (or arrange for a convenient vacation in Kentucky around a certain national holiday)!

Aunt Kake was galled, appalled, astounded, and just plain stunned.  She said to my twins, before they were planning to leave that they would, "do some smoke bombs and snakes". 

Snakes were so cool.  You used a match to light this little black button, and then all of the sudden the button exploded into a long tube of charred ash, hissing all the way.

My kids' response to her statement, "What are snakes and smokebombs?"

Um, oops?

I'm apparently lacking in their childhood fireworks education.

It's not that we don't 'celebrate' the independence of our country.  We do.  Our household is patriotism personified.  For Pete's sake, my husband is a soldier!  We have red, white, & blue basket liners, bows, candles, flags.  We even had a military wedding!  Every other day of the year, we celebrate our independence, we appreciate the sacrifices made by others for our freedoms.  I even took the girls to vote with me when they were littler and stressed how important it was that we recognize the women who fought for our right to vote.  We just don't 'celebrate' the 4th of July.

I don't know how to change what we do, or even if we should, but for more years than I can remember, we've gone camping.  We avoid the whole fireworks insanity that goes on around cities. 

My father-in-law, whom I never met, died on July 4, 1989.  I never got to meet him.  He was a military guy, just like Ironman, and lived in Colorado.  He loved the outdoors and enjoyed camping, fishing, and hunting.  From pictures I've seen, Ironman looks just like him. Even though I never met him, and our children never knew him, it still pains me that my husband doesn't have his father with him anymore.

Sorry if this seems like it's preachy or self-absorbed; and I'm not trying to make Ironman's father into something more than he was.  It's about how our family works, how we cope, how we get along, and how we *don't* grieve. 

In the interest of preserving a little bit of respect for the date (rather than the holiday), we go camping.  We spend family time together.  We cook outside (er, Ironman cooks, I decorate a chair), we hike, we go swimming, we play full-contact B.S., we laugh, we ride bikes, we play Monkey-in-the-Middle (which is wickedly funny when you surprise the 'monkey' by rebounding the ball off of her forehead).  We enjoy enormously rewarding family time together.

And while our children aren't learning about the finer points of pyrotechnics or the smell of burning explosives, they appreciate that their dad works hard for our country, they know he sacrifices to be away from us, and they enjoy our time together.  And if it keeps them 'close' to us a little longer, so be it.

For us, it's the perfect way to celebrate our nation's independence.

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