Fourth of July

Fireworks are exploding all around me, even on the TV screen as Chris plays a first-person shooter video game. It’s a quiet evening otherwise.

Charley, the 10-year-old Falcor lookalike, is huddled in the corner, trying to hide from the thunder and the fireworks. He’s managed to fall asleep, but his head keeps popping up with each particularly loud thunder clap. Charley will not lie on any furniture when it’s storming; he must be on the floor and near his humans.

Shiner, the 2-year-old pointer mix, is dreaming and twitching away, next to me on the couch. Nothing will wake him up when he’s out. It’s probably from living in a shelter for four months before Chris and I adopted him. He got so used to loud noises that nothing fazes him now.

Badger, the 7-month-old terrier(?), is lying on the other side of Shiner. He’s not quite asleep, because he’s never heard fireworks before. He’s trying to stay as close to his mama as possible, but Shiner is in the way.

This is how we do July 4th now. Home, with the dogs. When the big city fireworks start, we’ll walk outside and catch a glimpse of one of several displays. We’ll enjoy the smell of sulfur in the air and the smoke covering the area. Though the rain might prohibit that this year.

If we were in Michigan, with my nieces and nephew, it would be different. We would have sparklers and the kids would run around with them (okay, so would the adults). We might have small simple fireworks, like the ones we had when I was a kid, like snakes and colored smoke bombs. We’d try to hit each other in the feet with Snaps.

Some of the best July Fourths growing up were on Lake Michigan, often in Petoskey. My family, cousins and all, would head there and hang out on the beach until after 10:30 p.m., when the show might start. That was one of the great joys of the 4th; getting to stay up super late because it didn’t get dark until 10:30.

One memorable year, when I was maybe 12, my parents, brother, sister, Uncle Bob, and cousins Vinnie and Eric, along with some other relatives, were on the shore, watching the boats in the lake get situated before the light show began. We were fooling around with sparklers, laughing and enjoying each others’ company (though we hung out a lot anyway).

It was a particularly windy evening, with the breeze coming in from the water. Not something the boat operators were thinking about, obviously. Then the fireworks started.

“That one’s so pretty!”

Thus began a chorus of painful cries, as the hot remnants of fireworks began raining down on the crowd. Vinnie got hit. My jacket was burned. Everyone ran for cover.

Then the wind shifted. The show went on. Everyone went home with mementos from that show. Burns and scorch marks. But no one talked about those things. Vinnie, only six months older than me, never complained. We raved about the fireworks and the interesting experience. It was one more memory to stow away.

I have a lot of those memories, of time spent growing up with close cousins. Memories of fireworks and the entire clan enjoying holidays at Papa and Grandma’s. On the floor with quilts that were too short for us growing kids. Now, my cousins and sister are making new memories with their children. Watching fireworks and (I hope) not getting shrapnel rained down upon them.

Me, I’m making new memories, too. Quiet ones with my family. Comforting ones so these dogs know they are loved. Chris is playing and I’m writing. It’s a lovely evening.

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