Sunday, July 5, 2009

The 4th Tradition

We've had a tradition for the 4th, something we've done for years. This year, Abigail got to participate in the tradition. We will outfit our bicycles with whatever lights we can scrounge up: red lights from the parts bin on the back of the bike, powered by a cordless drill battery, and small flashlights duct-taped to our helmets, and head off to the Grandville fireworks display, about two miles away. Our bikes are packed with a blanket to sit on, snacks, sparklers, and whatever else we think to take along. We usually leave around 8:30pm, and claim our square of grass in the park next to Grandville Middle School, just off the bike path.

Abigail has been looking forward to this for a long time, and for this day she could hardly stand the wait. We heard the question "Is it time to go?" about a zillion times. She wanted to cut everything short so that we could get going. I think all the scurrying around and preparing things only heightens the anticipation.

We had her outfitted with a red blinker light clipped to the back of her pants, which she thought was really cool. She had to show us how it worked many times, turning it on and off and watching it blink.

When we finally claimed our spot on the grass, she wanted to play on the nearby playground for a while. The entire area was crowded and there was lots of noise from people talking, yelling, and setting off firecrackers. It didn't phase her a bit. Having spent time in several big cities in China, I can see why. Crowds are the norm.

She enjoyed her two boxes of sparklers as it began to get dark, but what she really liked were the flexible glow-sticks. These are the things you see people walking around the crowds and trying to sell for way too much money. Deb had found a box of a dozen of them for a dollar at a local store a couple weeks ago and figured they would be a good thing to head off having little girls asking for the overpriced ones on the day of the fireworks.

She soon had them around her neck, ankles, wrists, and waist. She also made sure that I had one, that Deb had one, and that Josh had one. Even after the fireworks started, she was busy rearranging the colors and sizes, making hats and bracelets. Never mind the fireworks, she had seen those before in China. This was something new.

When the fireworks ended, then it was time to move. With our blinkers on and our helmet flashlights on, we headed off down the bike trail towards home. Abigail wanted to play with her glowing bracelets, but needed to hang on to the bike to keep from falling off.

The nice thing about bikes is that we just ride past the snarl of traffic all trying to go home. We can be home and in bed before most people even make it out of the parking lot. Even so, it was nearly 11:30 when we arrived home. Abigail thought that was a hoot. Staying up way past bedtime. And she got to wear her glow sticks to bed.

We peeked in the window a little while later. She was still awake, playing with the glow sticks. I don't know how long it took her to get to sleep, but it was one of those special days when bedtime rules are set aside and the normal routine is broken up for a fun activity.

The trouble is, the next day we had an extended family get-together at a state park, and the day after that was her birthday. She's going to think that all we do around here is party.

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