The Fourth of July.
I really kind of love that holiday.
Now that the entire family is shell-shocked, our brains don't function properly and we lost what little ability to experience feelings we had.
But I digress.
I always barrel into this holiday with ideas for fun (everyone remember the Tractor Rides with the wedding dresses?), food, and entertainment.
And this year started off pretty typical. Mumsie called me up, asked if I'd planned a menu (which I had), we decided who would bring what, I gathered everything and promptly stopped planning.
Look, I've had a lot going on. I'm no Martha Stewart. In fact, I hate that beezy so if you were ever to attempt to refer to me as such, I would bury your body in a very shallow grave where the vultures would pick your bones clean after a deer dug you up and ate your face.
I don't like Stewart.
But I did have this stellar image of using the old-fashioned coke bottles with those super cool red and white striped straws that all the super-crafty moms are using for their perfectionist summer parties.
(Totally jacked these images from Pinterest. They were both dead links, so I don't know who owns the photos. Sorry)
Mumsie ordered the straws from Amazon (whom I hate, in case your forgot), and the straws were supposed to arrive on the 3rd. I looked in to acquiring the coke bottles, and found a whole case of them at Costco. Except those coke bottles are expensive, even at Costco, so I abandoned that idea and instead went with re-purposing Starbucks coffee bottles, which are just the same as old-fashioned milk bottles. Of course, I had to buy a flat of those and drink all that coffee before I could even use the bottles, so I was VERY caffeinated for two days as I emptied those bottles in preparation for the 4th.
But they turned out cool, right?
Uh. Ignore the sunglasses. One of those has alcohol and you know...
things just look better through the telephoto lens of Malibu rum.
What was that? Where is the red-and-white super-patriotic straw that I was talking about?
Amazon? YOU PIECE OF SHIT.
It never arrived. I had to use clear straws. CLEAR. Can someone explain to me how INVISIBLE STRAWS enhance this nation's holiday?
The straws did arrive, however, two days after their promised arrival date, which did me no good at all. Now I have 250 paper straws that I don't currently have a use for. I've been trying to pawn them off everywhere I go, like using them for tips at restaurants (which, apparently, cannot be substituted for currency. Whatever).
So the 4th was obviously ruined without the straws, so everything after that initial letdown was just par for the course.
If you read my Facebook page, you'll know already that Elle tried to kill us all.
Just as it was getting dark, we gathered the children around the fire pit out in the yard and set about preparing for the pyrotechnics.
Elle and I decided to be conservative this year, and by that I mean she bought all the fireworks and I JUST NOW realized I never paid her for my share.
That's ok, because the way I look at it, the money I spent on burn cream and skin grafts sort of evens that out.
I'm getting ahead of myself.
Elle assumed the role of Punk and the rest of us sat there in anticipation.
Well, I did because I was dog-tired. The kids ran around shoveling marshmallows and chocolate into their faces while chasing each other with glow sticks, and our parents watched the mayhem with satisfied expressions that said, I am SO GLAD I don't have to actively participate in attempting to control this mutiny.
All was well until we reached the last set of mortars. I could tell Elle was pretty much done with the fireworks. My 11 (who is now 12, BTW) graciously offered to finish up for her. Elle turned him down (wise move. Who hands a pre-teen a set of matches and access to explosives?).
As we watched the last of the mortars blow up the sky, we vocalized our appreciation for the things we had, the fact that we could watch explosives light up the sky and not worry about being killed, and yelled to the kids to quit running so close to the fire.
I stood up and began to gather the trash from the s'mores. I remember looking across the fire pit and watching Elle as she shook out the last box of mortars.
It was like a slow-motion action movie where Rambo takes his empty clip from his big fat gun, looks twice at it, shrugs and throws it into the fire just as the camera zeros in on the clip hitting the flames and that's when you know: everyone is going to die.
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out because at that same moment we were all blasted by a firestorm that would rival Dresden.
Or maybe the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
*Note: Totally not making fun at anyone's expense. I just thought I was going to die and the first thing that came to mind was, Oh. This is how it feels right before you burn to death.
Simultaneous with the firestorm was a BOOM so loud, it both rendered me deaf, and increased my hearing to a dog-like level. I could hear both nothing and everything at once. I think my brain shook inside my skull.
Kids were screaming, the dogs were dead (which later turned out to be a false assumption), everything was covered in embers, INCLUDING MY FOOT, and I think my parents and their lawn chairs were launched into the sky for a period of time because I don't remember seeing them for like, five entire minutes.
Elle was standing there, across the battlefield with the most bewildered look of terror and instant recognition of what she'd done.
I started laughing because honestly, I knew what Elle was thinking.
"OMFG, I killed my family. Gary is going to be PISSED that he missed this."
This all happened in a matter of seconds. While I was laughing, I was also grabbing kids and throwing them away from the fire pit, just in case there were any more surprises Elle wanted to shell on us. Elle was running toward my parents, or something, I don't know BECAUSE MY FOOT WAS ON FIRE, and we tried to calm all five of the kids.
Elle looked sheepish. I couldn't even give her shit over trying to murder us because I knew she was embarrassed.
So we started making fun of her, which is what we do in this family to make each other feel better.
No one was actually hurt (EXCEPT FOR MY FOOT, which still has melted skin and blisters a month later) and the kids quickly quieted down. Elle's girls were first to stop shrieking, I think because they are used to their mom's antics (Note* Her kids are never in danger. Elle is a helicopter parent. Okay, she is not, but I jut wanted to all to rest easy that Elle does not routinely try to burn people to death).
I think my 10 has PTSD, though, because she told me that night as she was going to sleep, "I just can't keep my eyes closed, Mom, because it keeps happening over and over again."
She still refuses to talk to her auntie.
At least my sister finally gets to use a line from her favorite movie, Better Off Dead, where Lane Myer says, Gee, I'm really sorry your mom blew up, Ricky.
Next year, we'll go with non-flammable glow sticks.
Elle, attempting to get the cousins to post for a photo early in the day.
Who knew it was almost their last picture together?
Grateful to be alive and embracing this glorious
new day that has been bestowed upon them