11:31:54 pm on
Tuesday 28 May 2024

Jennifer Flaten

I know many Americans love to celebrate Fourth of July by blowing things up. Honestly, I have no idea why sending projectiles loaded with gunpowder in the sky is considered festive, but whatever.

Fourth of July celebrates family wholesomeness, war and explosions.

If you think about it, Fourth of July celebrations suffer from split personalities. First, you have the parade, wholesome. Then you have the family picnic, which for every other family but mine, is wholesome.

My extended family banned picnics a few years ago because our family tree is overloaded with nuts, despite the careful pruning of certain branches.

It wouldn’t be out of the question for a member of the weirder branch of my family to decide to give you a fifteen-minute pole-dancing lesson-without the pole.

Finally, the wholesome day finishes up with an orgy of flaming things going boom. Look a red flaming thing-oooooh. Oh, look a blue flaming thing-aaaaah and now for something different a white flaming thing.

That isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed a few fireworks shows in my time. I have, just not lately. Now I am usually in bed by the time the fireworks start. I still have fond memories of the house I lived in a few years ago that faced the river where the annual fireworks show was held.

I watch from air-conditioned comfort.

From my comfortable bed, in my air-conditioned house I got a spectacular view of the fireworks. That is my ideal fireworks show, no bugs and no other people. The kids on the other hand, think the best show involves going to the park, where the will eat their bodyweight in sugary food, ask me when the show is going to start every five minutes for two and one-half hours and manage to fall asleep and stay sleeping though the entire show.

In order to appease my children, who are still young enough to think staying up late is the most amazing thing in the world, this year we agreed to do a “fireworks” show at home.

To do this show it requires a trip to the fireworks store, although I use the term store loosely. In my experience the fireworks store is a hastily erected tent in an abandoned parking lot or on the side of the road. 

In some cases the firework peddlers decide to skip the tent altogether and sell you explosives from the back of their truck. I am about as likely to buy fireworks off the back of the truck, as I am to buy seafood off the back of a truck.

Our fireworks store's a big box store.

Our fireworks store is located in the local big box store’s parking lot, and as you approach it, the first thing you notice is the sign that tells you not to set off fireworks within three hundred feet of the tent.

I imagine that sign came about because someone was so excited about their big box of exploding stuff that they decided it would be a good idea to light it up right there in the tent-yeeehaw.

While we were perusing the various exploding objects, I heard someone ask the clerk if they could try one before they bought it. Haha; oh wait he wasn’t joking. Guess I know why they have the sign; time to pay for our purchases and go.

I am a nervous Nellie-surprise-and didn’t want anything stronger than sparklers. Sadly, the majority ruled, I was done and we came home with a box of stuff, stuff with names like flaming fountain, exploding rose and my favorite whirling discs of death. Okay, so I made that last one up.

The kids spent the whole show ooohing and aahing while I stood by with a hose and fire extinguisher. I am happy the fourth is over.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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