Monday, July 4, 2011

What?! The fireworks are not for my birthday!

But for at least 3 or 4 years of my life, I thought they were. Honest mistake, I promise! Let me tell you the story...(this might get a little long because I'm feeling kind of nostalgic, just to warn you!).

As you might have guessed, I was born on the 5th of July :). I was born in Illinois and lived near LOTS of family. From my memories, we often celebrated my birthday the afternoon of the 4th because my mom and dad had a pool. So everyone would come over, we'd swim, have cake, open presents, swim some more. Until it started getting toward early evening. Than we'd pack up and go to Grandma and Grandpa's house. My grandparents had the most wonderful backyard. It was huge! And at the back of the property was a big field with baseball diamonds and a park and a tennis court. The tennis court was lined on one side with trees and there was a parking lot (I think) behind the trees. Every year, the fireworks would be set off from that parking lot.

Fireworks are one of my favorite things. But that wasn't always the case. There was a period of time when I was deathly afraid of them. It was a fear that took a long time to get over, but I am oh, so glad that I did! But, I'm getting ahead of myself!

Grandma and Grandpa's yard was a free for all for family and friends on the 4th. I mean, it was the type of party where you could invite the friend of a friend of a friend to share space in the backyard. I can remember stories of "How doy you know Ray and Dot?" "Oh, I'm a friend of Sam's. He's Gayle's son. Gayle is friend's with Cindy. She's Ken's wife. Ken is Ray's son." It's kind of like the five degrees of Kevin Bacon. Oh, my, I digress... The yard would be littered with blankets. I can remember ours. It was a blue jean quilt that my mom had made. There were pockets from the back of jeans to hide all kind of treasures in. And then we would watch the fireworks!

Now, first, can you see why I would kind of think they were for my birthday? We would celebrate my birthday earlier in the day. We would go to my grandparents' house to watch fireworks. It was pretty cool that the whole town got to celebrate my birthday with me, don't you think?! :)

Anyway, onto the scary part. One year (I honestly don't remember how old I was, maybe 5or 6), the fireworks mis-fired and some shot into grandma and grandpa's yard. I don't actually remember much about it, but I remember people running. I don't remember anyone being hurt, but it scarred me for many years. I didn't want anything to do with fireworks after that. They were loud. They were scary. And they hurt people.

I don't remember ever going to fireworks in the 15 years I lived in Georgia. A smattering of times when we would visit Illinois, we would go, but I would protest till I was blue in the face. Ironically, there were also fireworks that were shot off a block or two from my grandma's house (other side of the family), so I remember going to those a few times. But I don't think it was until high school that I really began to enjoy them again. And now, the 4th is again one of my favorite holidays. I love spending time with friends (which is what I most often do). Having a picnic. Playing games. And now that I live in Peoria, heading down to the riverfront every year to watch the fireworks. Setting out blankets and playing games until the fireworks start. Hanging out with friends. Oooohhhing and aaaahhhhing over each boom. Being so close that you can feel the big booms in your chest. And then talking about them all the way home--which ones were your favorites, what was different from last year. Making memories until the next year where you'll make even more new memories. I can't wait! :)

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