The 4th of July has always been a special holiday for me. For those of you who know me, you realize I’m one of the most deeply patriotic people you’ll ever meet. This 4th of July for me is the equivalent of Halloween for people who like scary movies. Going out to see the fireworks has always been a favorite adventure for me, and it’s one thing I really hope my kids will enjoy as well. When our oldest was really little, he was only a few months old for his first 4th of July and we didn’t venture out for a show. I felt strange about it, like somehow I was cheating him out of something special. Luckily he will never remember the lack of festivities on his very first 4th of July, but now that we added another tiny pet human to our collection, we had another infant to contend with. Much like pets, it turns out babies really don’t like loud bangs, mosquitos, foul weather, and crowds. Luckily we did something a bit different this 4th of July.
Well we didn’t plan on doing anything different at first…. We actually planned on going to the 4h of July celebration in New Smyrna Beach. We had a great time last year and dare I say, it was almost a perfect evening. Great weather, no bugs, a cool breeze.. Too bad the fireworks show was stopped early as one of the local buildings caught on fire! So we had planned on heading over to the river so our boys could experience all that New Smyrna Beach had to offer. Too bad the weather didn’t really cooperate. Or did it???
In our area, we had showers and thunderstorms off and on all week and we weren’t quite sure if it would hold up. Around 4 PM or so we sat down at my sister’s house and were checking out the future radar estimates. Good, Good, Good, Ahhhhhhh! It was all clear until around 8PM and BAM! a huge storm cell made the radar look like an evil Christmas Tree! Since we have an infant we decided to stick around and not venture out. Nothing is worse than getting stuck in a down pour with an infant and a toddler. Well it turns out our inaction and lack of desire to get drenched actually caught on, and soon enough, no one was going to the fireworks.
Instead a friend of ours actually bought a fireworks sampler pack and we decided to stay home and light them up! Now mind you, these aren’t the aerial fireworks that go hundreds of feet into the air, but instead the kit contained sparklers, and spark fountains. Nothing that made a loud bang. When it got dark outside, I popped the hatch of our SUV and our oldest hung out with his Grandpa for a bit while we lit up the display. It wasn’t the most extravagant display we had ever seen, but it was the very best 4th of July evening I have ever had!
The Mrs. was sure to keep her distance with our littlest guy, and was quite content hanging out in the garage. While we listened to the oohs and ahhs from the kiddos in the group, we actually had a bit of a history lesson. I was asked to explain the 4th of July to a 6 year old. I’m not sure why, but I’m always the guy to explain holidays to the little ones, so this didn’t seem odd for some reason. Now anyone could have phoned in the whole, “It’s the day we celebrate the birthday of The United States of America” explanation, but I decided to think this one out a bit.
Remember, the little ones had glow sticks, sparklers and are watching fountains of fire, literally just a few feet away, so they deserved to know the true meaning of the 4th of July. My answer: “The 4th of July is the day we celebrate our independence from tyranny!” The 6 year old had no clue what in the world I was talking about, and to be honest, the adults sorta looked at me funny as well. I had to elaborate, and explain that we as a people made a decision that we would not accept the rule of a king, and that we were entitled to have a say in how country was run. This explanation was a bit easier for the 6 year old in the group to understand and the adults in the group seemed to think this was an ample explanation as well. I did follow up with the whole birthday explanation as well, just to remove all doubt. It wasn’t as moving as the speech Bill Pullman made in the movie Independence Day, but it was a pretty in-depth conversation that some of the kids many not have ever had before.
So here I am a few days later thinking about how we spent our holiday weekend. Despite not seeing a huge and what was probably an epic fireworks show, I don’t think I would change a thing! We were able to spend time with friends and family, and I took an opportunity to really talk to the kiddos to let them know the true meaning of the 4th of July. We stayed close to home and it didn’t take much to make the little ones happy. I wish every holiday would be this stress free and fun!
Oh and the super-mega “perfect storm” type, hurricane strength thunderstorm cell that was supposed to drench all the spectators… Yeah, it never materialized.. We would have been fine….