nesting * geeking * critiquing

Fired Up About Fireworks

I am tremendously grateful to live in the greatest country in the world. Multitudes of brave men and women have died over the course of our history to ensure that we have unrivaled freedoms, comforts unmatched and little powdered sugar donuts. And I hope that I never take that for granted.fireworks

But no country’s perfect—ours has an irrational love affair with amateur-use fireworks. “Fireworks,” patooie! I don’t like them, I never have and I never will.

“Friends…countrymen, lend me your ears…”

[cue the Battle Hymn of the Republic] Fireworks should be big, awe-inspiring demonstrations! They should seem to stretch across the entirety of the night sky! They should boom so as to make you feel them in the pit of your stomach but not hurt your ears! They should be free to watch! They should not be purchased in big tents or warehouses! And they should be detonated only by trained professionals!

Fireworks should not be explosive powder stuffed in goofy, colored packaging that is made to resemble things like tanks, turtles, snakes or parachuting maniacs. They should not be suitable for lighting by John Q. Public as he prances around his driveway with a punk or other fire-starting device. Nor should they shoot out of little cardboard tubes that can be knocked over far too easily.

Am I the only person who thinks it’s ridiculous that flaming balls of explosives are shooting out of cardboard tubes?? It’s fire and cardboard, people! 

Above all else, fireworks should never, ever make squealing sounds that are certainly part of an evil plot to destroy all Americans’ eardrums. Think about it: one extra scoop of whatever makes that awful sound and it would surely push the frequency beyond what only dogs could hear. But do the manufacturers (mostly located outside of the U.S.) do that? Nope. It’s a conspiracy, I assure you.

Every year, I take one for the team and witness the holiday tradition that is amateur firework-shooting. “Fireworks,” patooie! Not only that, but I get to welcome the family into my home for said celebration.

In addition to the usual hostess woes of cleaning and food prep, I will entertain a plethora of other concerns. I will worry about burning down the house, about people getting hurt, about remnants falling in the yard and being eaten by my dogs before I realize what’s happening. I will complain about going another year without watching a real fireworks display. I will vow that we are never having the ‘party’ at our house again. Ever. I will threaten to move across the country to avoid it.

I will have to shower before going to bed to curtail my elevated blood pressure and rid myself of the smokey, chemical smell and ash in my hair. I will grumble about the people who are still out burning their money on noisy explosions that are, at best, mildly entertaining.

Ultimately, though, I will thank God that I live in the United States of America. We are still a young country that struggles with growing pains; too easily and too often, we lose sight of the big picture and become mired in discord over politics, values and even race. And yet, we also pull together in times of triumph and tragedy. We find ways to work around our differences and celebrate the qualities that make us uniquely American. You guys, we live in a country where people can literally watch their money go up in colored smoke if that’s what they choose to do!

And once the neighbors finally run out of “fireworks” (patooie!), I sleep soundly in a country that is safe and free and mine… and I’m darn proud of it!

Note: an earlier version of this piece was posted on my now-defunct blog, The Road to Kilmarnock.
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