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Fireworks & Another Fourth of July

For those who live in the USA, July fourth is kind of a big deal. Many have the day off from work and/or school (thank you to those who provide essential services, holiday or not). Some take vacations. Some plan backyard barbecues. Some go to movies. Some start counting the days til school starts up again. Some gather for family reunions. Some attend baseball games. And of course, some watch fireworks.

Hopefully all Americans, take a few minutes to reflect upon our country’s history, how far we’ve come and also how far we have yet to go to reach our potential as a nation.

If you live in the USA, what does the Fourth of July mean to you?

No matter where you live, what does watching fireworks mean to you, if anything?

For me, the Fourth of July holiday is jam packed with memories. Some of them wonderful. Some not so great. Some bittersweet.

I have countless wonderful memories from childhood. There were trips to North Dakota to visit my grandparents where there’d be firecrackers and sparklers, cousins to catch up with, birthdays to celebrate and Dairy Queen sundaes to devour, to name a few things to fondly recollect.

Fast forward to when my kids were young, the Fourth of July meant grilling hot dogs, eating ice cream dessert, watching Jaws and then hopping in the car to go watch fireworks. Fireworks were a big deal! Decisions had to be made about where to go to watch them followed by deciding whether to remain in the car and swelter vs. sitting outside and potentially spending more time swatting mosquitoes than gazing at fireworks.

Such dilemmas.

And of course, there was The Summer that Wasn’t. That Fourth of July also brings some not-so-good memories. Like recovering from my bilateral mastectomy, tissue expanders, pain pills, sleepless nights on the blue, leather sofa and preparing for chemo though, of course, I had no idea how to do that. Who would, right?

And there is last year’s Fourth of July.

Last year on the Fourth of July, my dad’s final days were upon us, though perhaps my siblings and I didn’t fully realize or accept this at the time.

Last year the Fourth of July was spent at my Dad’s bedside where he was recovering from a surgical procedure offering us glimmers of hope for a bit more time with him. We positioned his bed, as well as ourselves, to better view the explosions of color and pops of sound coming to us via a hospital window.

Moments of living mixed with moments of dying.

And here we are, another year later.

Whenever I view fireworks from here on out, along with all the memories of years gone by, I’ll remember that special Fourth of July spent with my dad. I’ll remember our little group huddled in the dark at his bedside viewing fireworks and a whole lot more.

Bittersweet memories, yes, but treasures for my heart forever, as are so many others.

Whenever I see fireworks, I’ll see you, too, Dad.

The Fourth of July and watching fireworks mean something different to me now, or rather something more.

To all my USA readers, Have a fun and safe Fourth of July. Go make some memories.

If you live in the USA, how do you celebrate the Fourth of July, or do you?

No matter where you live, what does watching fireworks mean to you?

Do you have a Fourth of July memory to share?

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Fireworks & Another Fourth of July, what they mean to me now. #hoidays #firewords #grief #fourthofjuly #family

Fireworks image via Adam Carter/Flickr. Used and adapted under CC licensing.

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Sunday 5th of July 2020

Two memories. NUmber one: If we got up early enough, we could go with Dad to the ice house, get a couple of huge blocks of ice, and then go to Dad's parents' home where I remember watching dad, grandpa, and my uncle chip at that ice! Meanwhile I was inside, at my grandma's table having a little bit of coffee with a lot of milk ... and sugar, and of course whatever baked things she'd made. Number two: Years later, my dad and my great uncle Mac took firecrackers and old tin cans and shot them into the air. (My mother hated that.) They always managed to avoid getting police citations. And, of course, we watched fire works.


Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Linda, Those are quite the memories! Thank you for sharing them.


Saturday 4th of July 2020

Nancy - it’s so different now with cancer as it’s own kind of remembrance “giving proof through the night” that our lives are built upon others who took the first doses of the medications that have extended my life and yours and so many others. This year in our area where fires can start at the flick of a cigarette out of a car window and destroy everything in sight from forests that have a rebirth post fire, to entire towns that make 100s homeless, to the human and animal victims, so there will be no fireworks. And because of COVID and the crowds of people who’ve still refused to wear their masks. I’m of mixed feelings in that we have a view from our deck of the place where there are the best fireworks over a lake for 2-300 miles and the small gathering we’d planned. It cannot happen but that’s okay. A friend or two are coming over to eat outside and enjoy the wonderful sunset - the universes own fireworks. But everyone who comes to my house wears a mask and takes off their shoes and washes their hands right away if we are good friends. So it will be a very quiet July fourth weekend here at our house and I pray that I will be here next year and COVID will not prevent another display and that cancer will rob fewer lives of my stage four sisters and brothers from seeing them.


Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Ilene, I very much hope for those things to be true next year as well. xx

Beth Gainer

Thursday 27th of July 2017


I, too, have many fond Fourth of July memories, especially when I was a kid. Of course, I remember getting chemo around that time, so my memories are not all pleasant. I love the pretty colors of the fireworks, but I hate the noisy ones that aren't pretty. The noise jars me and my cat Hemi. It was very poignant describing how you all watched fireworks by your dad's hospital bed.



Friday 28th of July 2017

Beth, The noise of fireworks used to drive Elsie crazy, so I relate to how Hemi reacts. I will never watch fireworks again without also thinking about my dad. Special memories for sure. Thank you for sharing.


Thursday 29th of June 2017

Last year on July 4th I brought my Mom from nursing home to see my sister who was at inpatient hospice. Mom died unexpectedly 4 days later, July 8th. Big sister died on July 25th.

Growing up we had the best holiday! Our community had, and still has, all day activities topped off w/ fireworks by Zambelli. All within walking distance of our house. Have seen fireworks in DC, Doheny Beach, & San Diego. Some years just watched on TV w/Mom.

When I watch fireworks, I feel grateful to live in the US, in awe of the founders who gave up everything. I feel hope & joy because it is a strictly celebratory holiday. And darned amazed at how these fireworks shows are meticulously created over months, all to be blown up in under an hour. Love it!


Friday 30th of June 2017

Renee, I am very sorry about your mom and your sister, too. So many memories for you during July. I'm glad you have wonderful ones from years gone by as well. They help balance things out. July 4th will be hard for me this year, yes, but really no harder than any ordinary day. Fireworks mean something different to me now, that's for sure, or rather something more. Thank you for sharing. Again, I'm sorry.