Snap, Sizzle, Pop…It’s the Fourth of July

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of July 3, 2017

14687804116_c553cd4dc4_zI don’t love fireworks, but I don’t hate them either. I think they are fun and pretty, and I have many memories of my childhood of Fourth of July with my dad and his love of Black Cat firecrackers.

I think there are a time and place for fireworks — celebrations, and of course the Fourth of July, but I would differ with people on the time or place.

One of my dad’s favorite activities with the Black Cat firecrackers was making a hole in a tin can, setting a firecracker in the hole, setting it in a pan of water and seeing how high in the air the firecracker would blow the can. When I was a kid, fireworks of almost any kind were illegal except for sparklers, and if I remember right,  small firecrackers and snakes might also have been legal. Penalties were different in those days. If the police caught you with firecrackers you were given a warning not a fine — at least that is what happened to my family and friends.

On the Fourth of July, we would travel to my dad’s farm, have a bonfire and shoot our fireworks. Probably many of them were illegal fireworks. I suppose it could be said that we were being told one time a year it was fine to break the law. We never talked about it but if I think about it now, it goes into that gray area where we choose what we want our kids to believe about honesty and following the law.  However, most of my family and friends found a countryside to shoot fireworks. Half of that was because of the law and half was because of respect for our neighbors.

I still remember visiting my son in Omaha one July Fourth. They had a watering ban because it was so dry and people would be fined for watering lawns. It was also illegal to shoot fireworks in the city of Omaha. But that was a law everyone ignored, so on the morning of the Fourth, the paper’s headlines were: If you are going to shoot fireworks please water your lawns. The fireworks started in the neighborhood around 8 a.m. and continued until about 2 a.m. the next morning. It wasn’t little fireworks, but many were the kind you see at events. The next morning the street sweeper cleaned the streets as it looked like it had snowed fireworks, and the street and lawns were covered with debris. It was a fun day because it was expected, and people knew what was going to happen.

The past few weeks around 11 or 11:30 p.m. loud booms could be heard in our neighborhood and other neighborhoods in our community. Facebook comments lit up in protest of the noise so late at night. Dogs and cats got scared and caused problems for their owners. Small children woke from their sleep scared, and those who suffer from PTSD almost took cover. Many veterans, no matter how long it has been, dive for shelter when they hear the noise because it brings back memories from their time in the war. It was an inappropriate time for fireworks because it was unexpected.

People felt there was a lack of respect for their neighbors. It is easier on veterans, children, and pets if you can prepare for the event that might shake their world. I know we can’t always prepare for the unexpected but in this case, trauma can be avoided by warning your neighbors, waiting until the actual day, or taking your fireworks into the country and an open area where others will not hear.

It is Independence Day and we should be celebrating. Fireworks are fun but remember to be careful is also a part of shooting off fireworks. Kids love fireworks. My grandkids are excited about this holiday. My husband and I will be staying home because he is one of those veterans who wants to take a dive when they hear the sound. We do not go to firework events. I remember the first time I was with him when we were dating, and fireworks started at an event. He almost pulled me straight to the ground on the pavement. Years later, the sound still sometimes triggers that feeling.

Enjoy your day. Have fun, be respectful and show your pride in being an American. We do live in a great land.

 Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com

Families Feud

I have been thinking about families today. I have especially been thinking about families that are estranged from one another.

It makes me very sad when I see relationships broken up because of misunderstandings. I once knew a brother and sister in their middle adult years become enemies.  They started feuding because of money and homes being left to one and not to all. I do not know who was right or wrong in this case. Many years passed and the feud continued. Children of these adults were not allowed to have any relationship with their cousins. Family events came and went without these people and families being part of each others lives. Soon the brother was on his deathbed. He asked to see his sister. At that moment it didn’t matter who was right or wrong. It didn’t matter what was left to who. All that mattered was that it was time for healing.

The brother died and those cousins, the man.s great nephews that never knew him were the pall bearers.The sister wept about all those lost years. She couldn’t go back. The relationship was mended at the end but there wasn’t enough time left to create new memories.

Relationships are never easy. Forgiveness is never easy. We are a proud people. We always hurt those we love the most.  Why am I writing this? Another family I know is suffering from estrangement. Soon it may be too late.

Perhaps I am so passionate about this subject because I have no siblings to feud with. Of course I can’t understand the sibling relationship but what I want to say is that a solo life without your siblings is a lonely life.

Who else is there in this world besides your parents  that has shared your life since your birth? Who else shares your genes and your history? Who else resembles your parents so closely?.Who else could share the sibling rivalry?You may not always like your family but there is love possibly deeply buried in the heart.

I have heard the words “I have no regrets if I never make up with my family, with my mother, with my brothers and with my sisters.” I say to you: perhaps you don’t know yourself as well as you think and someday those words will be flung into space in sorrow.

When we cease to exist in this world all that will be left will be those feelings we leave behind. We may think the material things of this world that we leave those we love are all important but they aren’t. They can’t take it with them anymore than we can take our earthly riches with us. What we can take is the love of those we left behind and leave those we left behind our love.

We might not know it but under the non existant feelings we think we don’t have,  that love  is there somewhere hidden in our heart. It is hidden by our pride, our need to be right, and our selfishness. We all have those feelings. It is ok to feel what we are feeling but ask yourself when the end is near will you like the brother and sister in the story regret not forgiving each other sooner?

Time is all we have until we don’t.