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Warning: May Contain Explosives
Out of all the holidays, Christmas included, the Fourth of July is by far my favorite. All of the relatives on my mom’s side of the family get together at my grandparents’ little cabin on the coast and have a good time. The little town that my grandparent’s cabin is located in actually has their Fourth of July festivities on the Saturday closest to the actual holiday. I really wanted to set off fireworks.
In order to prepare for the arrival of two-dozen guests, my mom and uncle always head down on the Thursday prior to get ready. For the ten year-old me, waiting was the worst part: I would be all packed the night before and spend the day running around asking what time we would be leaving, how the weather looked, and what we were going to eat. I couldn’t stop thinking about fireworks.
“Fireworks are super expensive, Colin,” my mom would always remind me.
But then around two o’clock my little cousins showed up and it was time to get the show on the road. We set off, classic rock providing background noise for four eager kids jammed into the back seats of a Honda Odyssey. After three hours of sitting in traffic, two-and-a-half hours of the smell of stale French fries, and a week’s worth of anticipation, we finally rolled up to the cabin in Tokeland, Washington.
The next thirty-six hours was spent scrubbing lawn furniture, cooking chili, sweeping out the garage to make space for all the seats, and greeting the relatives that were pouring in from across the state. Oh, and thinking about fireworks.
Saturday morning came bright and early, we were lucky this year, the rain stayed away for once, and all four of us dreary-eyed cousins dragged ourselves into the kitchen. The classic pre-parade meal was all there: raspberry Danishes, donut holes, fresh fruit, orange juice, and that flavored bread that my mom never buys for us. After consuming the caloric intake regularly needed by a full grown man in one day all at breakfast, we set off decorating the outside of the house with flags and other festive garb it was time for the most important part of the day.
We all got buckets and waited for the parade to begin. Buckets are a necessity at the Tokeland parade because every single float, cars, fire trucks, and pirate ship that rolls through throws out handfuls and handfuls of candy. Taffy, Tootsie rolls, Jolly Ranchers, Gobstoppers, the works.
After the parade was over we went back inside and started trading for the candy that we really wanted and tried to keep away the parents with sticky fingers. On the other hand, this is the time my cousin and I always asked to take a trip to the end of the road to go get fireworks.
“Mom can we finally go get fireworks?” I whined again.
“Well we don’t really have that much money lying around, honey”
“You see that drink you’re holding onto there?”
Rats. A classic mom move.
The rest of the afternoon was spent playing soccer and football in the yard, eating the endless chips and snack foods, talking to my aunts about how much I’ve grown since I saw them last, throwing water balloons, getting yelled at, watching the seagulls fly by, and having a good time. The giant family dinner came next, with the stream of aunts and uncle and cousins filing out, leaving my mom, her brother, us four cousins, grandparents, and a huge mess.
During the festivities, my uncle pulled Jared and I off to the side and entertained us with a proposition: if we could get some actual fireworks for the mere price of ten dollars, then we could go across the street to the beach and set them off, lighting up the night sky with millions of colors.
Perfect, I thought.
“So how many did you get?”
Everyone was interested when we arrived back at the cabin after our quick trip up the road, eyeing our bulging grocery bags. Eyes widened as we tipped our bags and brightly packaged cylinders just kept coming.
“What even happened?” everyone asked.
Here’s what went down: Jared and I, being the easily excitable kids we were, booked it down to the firework stand in record time. Ten bucks in hand, hyperactivity quickly dying as we looked at the prices. Ten bucks couldn’t even cover a decent pack of bottle rockets and assorted explosives. The owner noticed our disappointment and made his way over, eyes twinkling.
“What can I help you out with boys?”
“Well we were gonna get some stuff for tonight but we can't really get anything so we're just looking.”
“How about you take a look at this one.” He reached up and grabbed a couple of mortars off the top shelf and let our eyes rush over them. They easily cost upwards of thirty dollars.
“I think I can cut y’all a deal. What do you say?”
We looked around, confused.
“You give me your ten and I give you these and a couple other goodies, but y’all gotta set that beach alight tonight, understand?”
We nodded, at a loss for words. That record for a one-way trip down that road that we had set only ten minutes earlier was shattered, all while holding pounds of highly explosive material.
What a day! Lets just say that the firework owner made a swell deal himself, as we made sure that no one in the neighborhood slept a wink the whole night.