My family and I do the same thing ever fourth of July. We head out on the boat to an island in Ossabaw Sound with friends, and spend the day on the beach. There are always plenty of people there--all with their children and dogs--making the day as fun for us at it is for our kids. When dinner time rolls around, we make the trip back home and ready ourselves for the main event.
Our fireworks show is well known in our neighborhood, with strangers often pulling their cars into our driveway just to watch. We could be accused of going a little overboard on this front, but it's our tradition, and we love every loud explosion and burst of light we create in the night sky.
This year, however, things kind of fell apart at the last minute. The friends who were coming into town for the weekend had to cancel due to a family emergency. That left just me, my husband, and our two children. Oh well, we thought. We'll just make it a family day.
So, on Friday afternoon, I began the long process of setting up the fireworks. I pulled them all out of their boxes, placed them in the proper order, picked my finale pieces, and was just about to glue them down to two sheets of plywood so as to ensure we had no accidents (safety first, you know).
As I pulled out the huge bottle of glue, my husband told me to stop. Our very good friends in St. Augustine, Florida had just sent us a text asking what our plans were. Thirty minutes later, we'd reloaded all of the fireworks in the truck (and the kids, too) and were on the road.
Our unscheduled trip turned out to be one of the best Independence Days we've ever had. There wasn't a single hour all weekend where we weren't surrounded by wonderful people, laughing more than anyone has the right to.
As darkness fell on Saturday, I set up the fireworks (for the second time in as many days) in the empty parking lot of their neighborhood's pool and rec center. They live in The King and Bear, part of the World Golf Village, and there are very strict rules against setting off fireworks. But, we were not deterred.
Timing our set-up to occur between security officers' rounds, then waiting for the final security vehicle to pass by, we lit the first fuse.
Twenty minutes later, when the last embers from our finale fizzled out, the parking lot was no longer empty. Passersby had pulled in and neighbors walked over to join the celebration. Probably my favorite part of the whole experience.
Of course, when security vehicles turned the corner up the street, the party quickly ended as we all ran to our respective houses. We watched out the windows and waited for them to drive past so we could go back and clean up the mess we'd left in such a hurry. But that turned out to be another plan that fell apart quickly.
Security officers pulled into the now littered parking lot, opened the trunks of their cars, and loaded every last piece of garbage. When they were finished, they looked over at us--still watching like frightened children out the windows--and gave us a smile and a nod before heading off to finish their rounds. An unexpected kindness.
So, even though our traditions were put asunder this year, our Independence Day was still spectacular. I learned something, too. Plans are fantastic, but spontaneity can be really fun, too.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, celebrated in a way that brought you joy and laughter (and no problems with security officers).
XOXO Andrea Domanski