The Scrooge of summer…

We’re about to celebrate our nation’s 240th birthday, and while I’m all about the red, white, and blue and old age, I am not all about travel and crowds and heat and humidity and noisy fireworks. Bah humbug. I wish July 4th was in December.

I am no Scrooge, really. I will don my patriotic colors and even consider inviting family over for a cookout this weekend. I even will light up their world with 4th of July sundaes, complete with flaming sugar cubes. But I am happy that my children are grown and I am no longer the responsible party for making sure they have a party — in a crowded field of fireworks fans — on Independence Day.

No crowds, no fireworks. None for me, thanks.

In our small town, we celebrate July 4th on the 3rd, which has never ceased to confuse me (my daughter, too, who was born on the 3rd and assumed the big celebration was always about her. My husband watched fireworks from the hospital room when my daughter was born. I don’t remember what I was doing.)

I had grown up in a coastal city, where we congregated with the masses in the city park on the bay, where fireworks safely shot into the air from boats, filling the night sky and reflecting from the water as the sea breeze cooled the summer evenings. When I grew up and independent, I landed in a land-locked community in which fireworks are sent from a patch of land bordered by trees and shrubbery and buildings, overflowing with people from mid-day until late into the evening, when the summer sky is finally dark enough to showcase the fireworks. Parking is limited and far away, traffic horrendous, and when you finally arrive, laden with chairs and coolers and picnic baskets and children, pending thunderstorms threaten to cancel the event, making all effort at enjoying it moot.

As my children got older, we managed to “attend” the fireworks by finding spots farther from the fray — still crowded, as we weren’t the only ones with this original thought. Once we entered the university’s empty softball stadium — lovely seats, nice view — but had to leave before the festivities when police found us. Sadness. Mostly we found a parking garage where we arrived early enough to back into one space, the van poised to exit quickly, and set up chairs in another. We were far enough away that we saw the fireworks before we heard them, and by the time the grand finale showered the sky, we were already loaded and leading the lines of traffic heading away.

My traffic avoidance anxieties pretty much usurped any joy I might have incurred in the experience.

This morning as I readied for work, my husband told me that my daughter had specifically requested me to go with her and our grandson to the field of fireworks to picnic and play and otherwise exist miserably for hours on the glorious 3rd of July, on which my daughter turns 27 and the city turns out in full force to celebrate with her.

Funny man1. Bah humbug.

What are you doing to celebrate the 4th? Any suggestions for Scrooge-like me?

*****

Footnote

1 He was kidding. My grandson is a year old and has a strict nap and bedtime schedule. His mama, birthday or not, fireworks in celebration of her big day or the nation’s or not, is not about to mess with his schedule. My husband knows my Scrooge-like tendencies because, actually, he is EXACTLY like me in the sentiment (but is so much smarter than me that he got ME to take the kids while he luxuriated at home on our Independence Day celebrations). Therefore, he knew how I would react to the thought of re-entering life with children (now grandchildren) on July 4. If only it were Dec. 4… when the air is cold and crisp and the sun lets us all go to bed early. What’s not to love? (Oh, yeah. Traffic.)

5 thoughts on “The Scrooge of summer…

  1. I’m kind of a July 4th bitterman too. Mine mostly stems from the fact that we don’t get the day AFTER the 4th off. The main purpose of the 4th is fireworks, which has to have dark for and it doesn’t turn dark until 10 pm. So just to stay up and watch the fireworks (and if you are driving home in traffic) you don’t get home until way late. Thus the need for the day after.

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    1. Ah! Maybe THAT’S why my city celebrates the event the day before. Sort of like celebrating New Year’s Day the night before. We should just call July 3 July 4th Eve and have everyone celebrate that night. Maybe? Or have both the 4th and the 5th marked as national holidays…

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  2. You are not alone in your thoughts on this holiday! Love all the picnic-type activities on the 4th of July, but agree that fireworks should be the main attraction on Independence Day EVE! For those of us who are compelled to be at the gym at 6:00 a.m. every weekday, staying out late (anything past 8:00 p.m.) is the pits. I will be safely tucked away in my house (away from mosquitoes and humidity) listening to the loud booms coming from Alachua and from my neighbors who insist that blowing up thousands of dollars’ worth of fireworks is a justifiable expense. When it’s over, I’ll go to bed and be quite happy that I didn’t have to drive anywhere. J

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    Connie Steen
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    1. Yeah. That whole early to bed, early to rise thing doesn’t work overly well with this holiday, especially when that early to rise tendency leads to early to gym. I’m with you on the listening to the bangs from the comfort of my own home. I do like to see some fireworks, and it is less inspiring when I’m not working for it (i.e. sweating, driving, braving traffic and crowds)… but not so less inspiring that it inspires me to endure all of those things! Sometimes a walk in the neighborhood gives me just enough visual and noise (and sweat) to make me think I’ve actually celebrated appropriately. 🙂

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