I remember sitting in the back of my dad's pickup truck as a young girl, staring up at the night sky. We were parked in an empty field waiting for the fireworks to begin.
As soon as they would start, I would stuff my fingers deep into my ears. I could still hear the booms and the pops, but I didn't care. The fireworks were amazing, and I loved them. It's one of my favorite memories.
There was never any choice, really, about going. No matter how scared I was of the noise, I had to go because the whole family was going.
That's kind of how it worked when we were young.
Not so anymore. If one of our boys protests loudly about something or is scared, oftentimes, we just don't do it or that child stays home. Perhaps it's because in "this day and age" we know more about psychological scarring and therapy appointments and all that other B.S.
And I really do think it's B.S. If we stayed home every time one of our children complained about going somewhere, we'd never go anywhere or have any kind of experiences at all.
Not everyone at our house enjoys fireworks. Back in 2008, when Joey was 4, he was just starting to enjoy fireworks and helping Hubby set off simple ones. We were so excited for the next year, but of course that was the year he got sick; and then there were about three years that no one was interested.
Last year, Knox became interested, and he is even more so this year. But we always have someone hiding in the house or the car or complaining in general about not wanting to see/hear them, though.
Friday night, we met up with Hubby's sister's family to attend a free concert and fireworks show that our city puts on every year the Friday before the Fourth. Upwards of 80,000 people attend - it's that huge of a deal.
We never venture in to the actual park itself - it's a logistical nightmare. Instead, we meet right behind the park at an elementary school. That way we can talk and play on the playground and run on the soccer field and have fun; although we actually haven't been for about five or six years.
It was time to go again. We found a parking spot right by the park and set about playing and enjoying the music and the people watching. Unlike the muggy and humid years past, the air was cool and fairly bug-free. The boys romped with their cousins and the adults chatted, stopping to push someone on a swing or help a toddler up the stairs to the slide.
Soon enough, dusk was settling in and the music was coming to an end. Hubby wanted to leave before the fireworks as "not to traumatize the boys." I suggested hopping in our car to watch, but Hubby didn't like that idea either.
People from the park were scurrying up the hill to grab the best viewing spots, and I knew it was now or never if we were going to leave. Slim started moving up the hill with the throngs of people, and we had to yell and chase him before we lost sight of him in the dark crowd. We quickly gathered up our chairs, cooler, and the boys and got in the car. Hubby wove through the narrow, crowded streets trying to reach a church parking lot up the hill. Perhaps that would be far enough away and provide a good viewing spot for the fireworks display.
Suddenly, we heard booms indicating the show had already started. We found a break in the thick trees and parked on a side street. Hubby and I got out of the car to watch and the boys stayed in.
As usual, the fireworks were beyond amazing. But what was more amazing to me were my children's reactions. I think I watched them more through the car windows than I did the fireworks show.
Their faces were bright and alive with wonder. Everyone was smiling wide, open-mouthed smiles and no one was covering his ears. They were loving it!
And I was glad we made them go.
On the way home, the backseat brimmed with conversation and giggles.
"That was so cool!"
"It really wasn't that loud!"
"This was the Best. Night. EVER!"
"Can we do this EVERY year?!"
My heart was filled with a happiness it hasn't felt in a while. Holidays are hard. Days that not everyone wants to do the same thing are hard.
But times when all of us are excited and happy? Well, those are rare and treasured, and will now be tucked into our precious memories.