Independence Day 2007

4 07 2007

I don’t have any old family pictures specifically related to the July Fourth Independence Day holiday, but this old photograph of my grandfather having broken a lawn chair while sitting down looks kind of “summery.” I can almost hear my grandmother saying “Hang on, Jack. Let me go get the camera.”

We were pretty big on celebrating July 4th, though, for all my lack of pictures to prove the point. I think the fact that we used to be able to light our own fireworks–and create our own displays–had a lot to do with this holiday being one of my favorites when I was a child. As I got older the July 4th holiday lost a little of it’s mystique for me. It turned into a bar-b-cue/beer party, with occasional forays to some park to watch a large, professional fireworks display.

Professional fireworks displays are okay the first few times you see them, but after that they sort of suck. One looks suspiciously like all the others, year in and year out. It was a lot more fun to do it ourselves, back in the day. And exciting. Every year you could bet that somebody (probably after a few to many adult beverages) would very nearly injure himself (or someone else) trying to light some small explosive device with his cigarette. One year that stands out in my mind–even though I was only four or five at the time–my stepfather and grandfather got into a “pop-bottle rocket” fight with some teenage boys across the street. I remember being terrified as those things whizzed past my head and exploded in the yard behind me, and I remember my mom jerking me back into the house and saying “Goddamned idiots!”

I recently began work at a new job and I couldn’t help but noticing a big sign that the manager printed and stuck on the bulletin board: WEDNESDAY JULY 4 IS A NORMAL WORK DAY. I’m not sure why he felt the need to put the word NORMAL in there … in fact, I find it a bit insulting. I work in a place now that doesn’t allow time off for holidays, and while I don’t mind so much for myself, I resent that it messes things up for my family. They don’t want to go do anything without me (although I have urged them to do so), and our entire July 4th celebration will probably consist of grilling hotdogs in the back yard and watching whatever fireworks we can see from the front yard later in the evening.

Last year–when I still had a real job, and time off for the holiday–we took my son to a nearby park where the city had set up a nice little carnival/antique car show. This is the same nearby park that has the fireworks display that we can see (more or less) from our front yard. We had a blast, although putting my son on a kiddie roller-coaster that scared the bejesus out of him wasn’t quite as fun as watching some drunk relative nearly blow his face off with a cherry bomb.

Those where the days…

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