Hearing the pop of a stray firecracker this time of summer brings me back to how I spent nearly every Fourth of July as a child. A few days before the day, my dad would take my brother and me to a hobby store which, for a short time, stocked its aisles with black cats, roman candles, fountains and bottle rockets.
We walked the cramped space carefully selecting from the colored packages, discussing how each might look later on in the sky. For that day, I thought this was the very best it could get; a night where our neighbors collectively and silently agreed to pull their cars into their garages, leaving the street a blank canvas for their kids.
This was my Independence Day tradition then. An empty street littered with charred sticks and paper. And later on, after everything had been lit that could soar up or erupt on the ground, ending the night with a spray of sparklers waved around in the dark.
I think about this now as I watch our two girls, at ages 5 and 8, debate the best parts of their Fourth: a fair, some fireworks along the beach, a parade with chairs lining the street and handmade floats. It’s the first year our daughters asked to go out and find outfits specifically for the day. Ones with red, white and blue. It’s also the first time I have a clear picture in my head of how the Fourth of July looks for us now, and realizing for the first time how long it takes for tradition to become tradition. And appreciating just that.
So in whatever fashion you like to spend your Independence Day, here’s wishing you a very happy celebration!