Both my husband and I remember going to big firework shows as kids, oohing as the lights exploded across the sky. But we both recall backyard explosions too. When I was growing up in Louisiana, we kids would back into the bushes as fearless fathers and big brothers lit cherry bomb firecrackers – notorious for their tendency to blow up unexpectedly and take fingers with them. And my friends and I would zoom around our yards with sparklers in our hands, spitting and sparking with white light. I think it was sparklers that began our own family tradition. When my older son was small we bought a pack from a fireworks stand and I can still remember him leaping around our California backyard, making trails of light in the darkness. We lived in Sacramento then and fireworks stands sprouted around the city come summer. The next year, we added to our backyard show – purchasing snakes, and glowworms, and bright papered cylinders that promised to light up like flower gardens and city skylines and strings of pearls. There would be Peter, my husband, with a lighter in one hand and a hose in the other. The fireworks would twinkle in the dark. They were tiny by show standards but they were taller than my son, Marcus, who barely came up to Peter’s knees. He would squeak with delight, sparks of light sprinkled across his face. “Do another, Dad!” (You remember the moment so perfectly later – the way your son’s face glowed in the night, lit by sparklers and happiness).
Tiny Fireworks: Deb Blum on the ephemerality of fireworks and one’s children.