I missed a ton of holidays while in Indonesia. The big ones, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, I muddled through the best I could with late-night skype chats with my family and make-shift holiday festivities with other family-less expats. The minor holidays, like St. Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, often slipped by completely unnoticed. But nothing could have kept me from coming home for the 4th of July, our Nation's Independence Day. It is a holiday my family embraces with both burn-scarred arms every year. It is the one time during the year we can handle explosives and light each other on fire in the name of patriotism.
I was captain, but my brother Jamie would take true charge of things, doling out rations of ammo to the team and devising strategies; smoke first to confuse the enemy, then charge with roman candles, finally the rockets. His eyes lit up like Christmas with every battle roll and low crawl - his maniacal laughter filling the smoke-filled air like sweet music to my ears. We'd emerge from the woods sweaty, trying to one-up each other with our stories of near misses or showing off fresh burn marks. The women would cluck prophetical warnings of lost eyes, and Nana would fret from the screened-in-porch-become-basement.
We learned to nail down our cakes and our show got better and better each year, though minor concussions and temporary hearing loss would continue to add 'spice' to the show.
After Nana and Papa moved south permanently, we lost our wooded battle ground and show space. For two years, we lived through the 4th of July just like every other Tom, Dick, or Joe. Waiting in long traffic lines and sitting on crowded fields to be trampled on my whining children. Knowing that I was going to be home for the 4th this year, I challenged Dad to find a new spot and bring back to life our little family tradition. One week after coming home, I was once again dressed and ready for battle, this time with my own posse.
|I know, I know...I could have shot my eye out.|
|Like beautiful gobstoppers; so many colors!|