July is my husband's favorite month (his birthday month) and The Fourth of July is his favorite day of the year. He gets as excited about it as I do about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Among his most cherished childhood memories are Independence Days at his parents' lake house surrounded by dozens of extended family members, relishing his mom's home cooking, swimming for hours, and setting off hundreds of noisy explosives. Penn is a fireworks aficianado.
For a few years I got to be part of the celebration, although I know a great deal of the specialness of it all was lost on me. I loved the amazing fireworks show the "boy cousins" put on in the evening. But the previous eight or so hours of constant booming, popping, and screaming of the lesser fireworks (you know the really loud and annoying kind that they throw in the bag as a bonus when one spends a lot of money at fireworks stands?) did get a bit tedious. :)
When Nicknack was born Penn and I agreed that we'd have to excuse ourselves from the fun for a few years. The hours and hours of deafening noise just aren't appropriate for new ears.
Last year was our first Fourth of July in this house. Nicknack was about five weeks old. Penn and I made a date to sit in the backyard at five til ten, when darkness begins to set in, to catch the surrounding fireworks displays. But Nicknack had other ideas. He and I were still struggling tremendously with nursing, and wouldn't you know it - he chose that exact time to begin a very lengthy and productive nursing session. Believe me, when nursing went well it was such a relief that I dropped everything else. So Penn stood outside by himself for an hour, watching the fireworks and sharing a running commentary of it all through our bedroom's screen windows. (He thinks everyone is as interested in fireworks as he is and I don't do anything to shatter this delusion.)
This year we had a quiet, but fun Fourth. We took Nicknack swimming in Penn's boss's pool (He lets us use it when he is out of town) and had a wonderful time in our own backyard for most of the afternoon. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. Hot enough for Nicknack to splash in his little pool and toddle around the yard nakey. We stayed comfortably cool with the help of our hose's mist feature. :)
This year Nicknack was soundly asleep when ten o'clock rolled around. The 360 degree fireworks noise was incredibly loud and went on for hours. I kept checking on him (and turning up his bedroom white noise machine), but he was blissfully unaware. What a difference a year makes! Penn and I were able to take in all the surrounding fireworks together. We live on a cliff, on the Sound. So it's pretty neat to see the hundreds and hundreds of blasts all along Vashon and Bainbridge Island. Best of all we have good view of the Normandy Park and Tacoma fireworks shows. The latter goes on for nearly an hour and is a pretty impressive display.
Honestly, I enjoyed watching Penn as much as the fireworks. I sat in a lounge chair, but he was too excited to sit. He found the exact spot in the yard where you can see the two simultaneous shows and their reflections on the water. So, of course, eventually I had to stand there too. He oohed and aahed for thirty solid minutes. "Look at that one!" He'd point. "WHOAAA!" He'd shout.
I felt bad that he missed another Fourth of July famiy gathering and the opportunity to put on his own fireworks shows. (Although our budget is thanking us.) Maybe next year. Nicknack can wear earplugs. Or maybe next year we'll do the same thing as this year. Only we'll wake Nicknack at ten so we can bring him out and show him fireworks. Or maybe we'll live in another (smaller) town and we'll go to see some kind of community fireworks show. Who knows. Really, I think Penn will be happy as long as there are fireworks to be enjoyed. I can't think of much that he would appreciate more than sharing his love of fireworks with his little guy. (And I can't think of much that would worry me more, so I hope he is happy watching them and not lighting them!)
At about midnight we finally crawled into bed. We left the bedroom windows open for a while, to enjoy all the booms and blasts for a bit longer. In a dreamy voice Penn asked me the same question he asks every Fourth of July and New Year's Eve. "Someday can we go to the World Fireworks Championship?"
Of course we will. And it will be great.
Happy Fourth of July!