so today . . . is the fourth of july. all the blogs i have read today are about how great it is to be an american, and what it cost others for us to be able to live the way we live today. they have been well written and inspiring. diandra's was especially good! so go read hers . . .
because for me, the fourth of july is all about the fireworks!
i remember as a kid, sometimes we would go park on marine drive out by the airport to watch the fireworks. it was magical to me! i love to feel the BOOM in my chest when they are ignited, and then the POP when they explode into colors. and i love the surprise of never knowing what each one is going to look like . . .
the summer rollie and i got engaged, it happened on the fourth of july. he was gone for the summer doing a pastor-interning sort of job, but he had come home for a week for his sister's wedding. and so, on the fourth of july, we drove out to the airport and watched the fireworks on marine drive. we had already talked about getting married, so this wasn't one of those surprise proposals, but we wanted it to be "official." so on the fourth of july, he asked me and i said yes. and let me just say, not only was it one of the best decisions i have ever made, but engagement rings sure do sparkle when illuminated by fireworks!
several years later, we had a tiny baby girl by july fourth. she was just about two weeks old. she was a very good baby, but there was one thing about being a new mom that was giving me problems. i loved that little girl, but i was starting to get discouraged. so rollie and i went to watch the fireworks--without her. my mom and dad and grandma were visiting and were delighted to have a little time of their own with our new baby girl. so once again, we found a good place to park our car, and we watched the fireworks. i cried. rollie told me it was going to be ok. and then we headed back home. and it was ok. that very brief time we spent watching fireworks and talking helped me get back on my feet as a new mom. which was really important, because MY mom was getting ready to go home and leave me all alone with this brand new tiny little human being . . .
when diandra was about 2, we decided she should do sparklers. i remembered loving sparklers when i was a kid--they were beautiful and sparkly, and they would kind of leave a trail in the air when you moved them really fast. you could "draw" or even write your name in the dark! i wanted her to have that experience too . . . and she was so cute! she was wearing her pink and white striped bathrobe and slippers, she had put pink plastic curlers in her hair (one of her favorite things to do,) and was holding joylene (her cabbage patch baby) in one hand with the sparkler in the other. we lit the sparkler and prepared for the magic to happen . . . her face lit up! i snapped pictures. and then, she almost caught herself on fire! the wind was blowing a little bit, and she was waving the sparkler around (per her mother's instructions) but she didn't seem to understand that it was sort of like fire, and she got it awfully close to her hair. thankfully i am not a total moron, and so her dad was standing nearby NOT looking at her through a camera lens. disaster was averted, and we decided that perhaps we should put the sparklers away for a year or two . . .
a few years later, we moved to southern oregon. we lived in a lovely little town and had the fun (and sometimes frustration) of being responsible for building both a new house and a new church. the property was on the edge of town, so when the sun went down, it was very dark. and every year, the people from our church would gather in the parking lot to watch the fireworks. it was the perfect spot! we would tune the radio station to the one playing patriotic music and blare it out! one year our worship band played a concert in the parking lot before the fireworks. it was so cool! i had never done anything like that before. we had all our equipment set up on a big trailer platform, people came to listen and sing along, and it was fun, fun, fun! (and loud, but that's the way i like it . . . ) and then we all ate popcorn and ice cream and watched the fireworks.
the first summer we were in southern california, our church manned a fireworks booth as a fundraiser to help kids go to camp. this was a new concept to me, but i signed up for a couple of shifts. it was an interesting experience. i had no idea how much money people would spend on fireworks! some of them probably should have been paying their rent or car payment instead. i mean, they would spend hundreds of dollars on stuff that they were just going to burn up--hopefully without anything exploding in their faces . . . and we had to have a guy onsite at all times who was armed in case someone tried to rob us! this was also the year i was introduced to snappers. i love snappers. the only fireworks i had used up close and personal were sparklers, but snappers instantly became one of my favorites! there is just something so satisfying about that POP when it hits the ground--and it has the added advantage that fire is not involved, although they are still illegal within the city limits, so it is kind of hard to really enjoy them . . .
last year on the fourth, my friend wendy was visiting. she came for a week. i was a little nervous about it, because although i really like wendy, we hadn't spent much time together outside of work. but we had been talking online quite a lot and decided it would be fun for her to visit. we went to disneyland and california adventure. we ate at rubios. we spent a day in hollywood. and on the fourth of july, we drove to the di-ho market on the edge of little india and sat in my car with the top down to watch the fireworks. it was fun to have someone ooo and aahhh with me . . .
the truth is, it doesn't have to be the fourth of july for me to get excited about lights exploding in the night sky. if i am going to an angels baseball game, i want to go on friday night, when they have fireworks after the game. if i go to disneyland, i want to stay until after 10:00 so i can see the fireworks. even if i go to sea world (which is an hour and a half away) i want to stay late for the fireworks show--and thankfully i can, because rollie will drive home while i sleep . . .
i guess i am a fireworks junkie. tonight as i was sitting in my car watching 2 different city fireworks shows, plus 3 different neighborhood shows--all from the di-ho market parking lot--i got to thinking about how lucky i am to live where i do (i love southern california!) not just because i can find a fireworks show within 15 minutes of my house on any night of the year, but also because i live in a country with unprecedented freedoms. i am thankful that i was born here, and didn't have to overcome the almost impossible obstacles that face those wanting to immigrate. i am thankful that there are still men and women today who are willing to give their lives, if necessary, so that i can continue to enjoy the freedom that i do. i am thankful that i really do live in "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
this year the fireworks exploding in the night sky reminded me of that.