Fireworks are not my favorite. Actually, fireworks in Nebraska really irritate me. When living in other places, I used to love driving to a park nearby, pulling out a blanket and sitting on a slope or the back of a pick-up and watching a town put on it’s best show of the year to celebrate our country’s independence. That’s not really the way it’s done here. Fireworks are available to all and most all have a need to buy them. A week in advance. And proceed to set them off whenever they want. It can be the middle of the day and a group of 12 year olds is setting off rockets in the driveway. Then Dad comes home to show Junior the big ones, and they shoot fireworks into the street and into the night. On July 1st and 2nd and 3rd. We have a couple of rescue dogs who react like they have PTSD every night this time of year.
My issue is not with the fireworks, but with the carelessness and casual attitude behind them. We were driving through the neighborhood last night at dusk and it looked and sounded like a war zone. This doesn’t feel like a celebration of independence to me, it feels like an excuse to play with fire. We have neighbors who are known for their fireworks display and must spend thousands of dollars on them each year. We end up sitting in our front yard watching the show, with me having all kinds of self-righteous thoughts like,’the money could be spent on so many better things’ and,’what if everyone took one year off from buying fireworks and used the money to feed the poor’. The truth is that I personally put a low value on fireworks, so it would be an easy sacrifice for me to make. Change the holiday to Christmas and it’s a different story. Most of us spend too much time, money and energy on things, and then judge others for doing the exact same thing on something that isn’t important to us.
I have a friend whose parents taught her to never look at what people own to determine their wealth, but only to determine their priorities. Such wise words. If someone were to take inventory at our house today, they would decide that food is the primary way to celebrate the fourth of July – how is that any better than the guy down the street who invests in fireworks? It’s not, but all too often I can be quick to justify myself and to judge others. So, let’s pull out the chairs into the front yard tonight and watch the show, maybe we’ll even meet some neighbors!