Back when Raeggee Baby was still the only baby in our little family, I wrote my first post lamenting the insanity that is an entire week’s worth of fireworks in the dear town of Hastings. In the three years since, not much (OK, nothing) has changed on my views of fireworks. I am more partial to the 4th thanks to my little Yankee Doodle (who is already, somehow, magically turning two this week!), but I don’t know that I will ever understand the light-’em-up approach some people desire to take this time of year.
In the past, my frustration with an entire week of pops and bangs has centered on sleep interruption. I am six-years tired at this point in my life, and anything that infringes on my sleep (or that of my children) is viewed as a threat (I’m looking at you, delivery truck driver doorbell ringers). While my kids are typically in bed early enough so as to not be too bothered, I find it extra challenging to fall asleep this week; this year I came into the week prepared, thanks to the brilliance of my future SIL, with these little beauties: Between them and a noisy fan on the floor of my bedroom, I was set for sound sleep Saturday night before the firework curfew began. Excellent.
Last night, however, the nuisance became an actual near threat as Ben found himself outside our house at the very wrong time, cleaning up kids stuff and moving a hose around the yard. During his eight minutes outside, he heard at least as many big *POP*s from a house up the street and then watched as the wind carried the debris over several houses and into our yard. OK, annoying and loud, but so it goes the week preceding the 4th, no?
As Ben then transitioned from the front to the back yard, he heard another angry firework burst and this time he looked up to see a bottle rocket curving up and over the neighbor’s roof, headed straight for him. Thankfully I wasn’t there to see just how close it was to making contact, but even being in the house, I certainly still heard his reaction. If you know my husband, you know he does not yell unless he is excited during a Husker’s game, and obviously it was not an excited tone he was using last night when he yelled in the direction of the offending yard about safety and calling the cops and whatnot. Now, we do not actually know the people who live in that house, and while an apology might have been nice, they did at least have the wisdom to not try to make excuses for their poor behavior and they also stopped shooting crap, at least for the time being. As for my husband, well, he came back in the house still retty hot under the collar and, I think it is fair to say, fairly freaked the hell out.
Here’s the thing. We are blessed. So blessed and so very privileged to live in a place where we don’t have to worry about danger flying through the air at us outside our home. Many people around the world and across the United States cannot say the same, so for us to go off and get all indignant about fireworks one week of the year feels a little extreme (however when one flies at your head, the potential for injury and impairment very much becomes real, so maybe not so silly after all). But really? This is how we mark our freedom?
Why do we do this to celebrate our nation’s independence? Why do people assume the noise isn’t awful for veterans (much less small children and animals)? Why is OK to potentially put our neighbors (and their children and property) in harm’s way for the sake of some loud noises, bright colors, and smoke? I do not understand any of it.
I realize one mama’s rant on Facebook or her blog is not going to eliminate the problem; this is big business we’re talking about, after all. And I am not a total Scrooge. I want people to have fun on the 4th, but I also want them to be aware of what they are really celebrating and how they can best do so. That means I will continue to advocate that people (also) spend money this time of year to support actual people and organizations who have scarified to make this country free. After last night’s episode, I had some people give me great ideas online (service dogs, homes for vets, and sending care packages to a local unit) for where I can donate, and I’d be happy to hear from you if you have others to suggest.
And when the day inevitably comes that one of our own kids asks to buy some fireworks, you can bet that the hubs and I will say yes, only on the condition that they do something (donate, volunteer, write cards) to honor actual servicemen and women. Because big noise and bright colors are, to me, a pretty inadequate way of showing gratitude, which should be the driving force behind our celebrations.
UPDATE: Fire in the Sky
Last night, again in the 9:00 hour (which is apparently the witching hour of fireworks in this town), Ben was again outside closing up shop for the day when all of the sudden I heard him at the back door calling my name to come see this “light in the sky.” I joined him in the driveway and looked up to see one of those wish lantern things floating over our house (totally didn’t know they sold those now for the 4th).
Now, it was pretty, floating gently through the air, but as we stood watching it, my Bah Humbug came out again and I began to comment to Ben, “You know, those aren’t very good for the environment; they’re potentially dangerous to wild animals and a fire hazard too…” when, no joke, the thing suddenly started to fall directly from the sky at our house.
Ben’s reaction was hilarious (it’s a little easier to make sure you’re out of harm’s way from a falling lantern than a flying rocket), and included several “Are you kidding me?!”s and some incensed hopping around the driveway. I just stood there laughing at the bizarre timing of it all as we watched it land in our back yard.
So apparently our house is now a magnet for all things firework related. You would think this might mean my hubs was going to avoid the great outdoors the rest of the week in the FWH, but instead I think he’s taken up a guard role of some sort and thinks he needs to be outside protecting us.
What could tonight possibly bring?!