Friday, July 9, 2021

A Number 4, Hold the Patriotism

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Your “Secret Subject” is:

Are you a fireworks person? How do you celebrate the 4th of July?

It was submitted by:



I feel like I could probably leave it there, but that wouldn't really make for an interesting read, so let me overshare some more of my thoughts and life. Why the fuck not?

I've never liked fireworks even as a kid. Cried over them every time. I startle easily, though--loud noises, someone just randomly coming around the corner or speaking to me when I'm in my own world, the most tame scene in a not even very scary movie. It doesn't take much.

Let me introduce you to my friend, Childhood Trauma. C.T. has been faithfully by my side for as long as I can't actually remember at all because, you guessed it, Childhood Trauma. She's pretty cunning but ever-present in my life. Honestly, she really shaped who I am as a person even this many years later. I don't know who I'd be without her. And the great part is no matter how hard I work at pushing her away, she pops back up at the weirdest times, and it's like she never left at all! And she definitely likes to give me some jump scares.

Seriously, fuck fireworks. I get little snatches of memories here and there about being a kid. There are things I know without remembering specific events, but there are many little blurs of things I can recall, and there are some terrible images of my parents having knockdown physical fights over fireworks especially on the 4th buried in my brain. July 4th is my mom's birthday, you see, and she didn't want my dad using the 4th as a reason to get drunk and shoot off fireworks (and his mouth) and pretend it was for her birthday. We couldn't get very many fireworks in a Georgia legally back then, and I remember crossing state lines to this little hole in the wall shop in Alabama with the tension thick enough it slapped against your body like a weighted blanket so heavy you couldn't kick it off.

So we'd drive back, the car either scarily quiet or loud with the fury of two people who didn't have a clue how to love or understand one another. By the time my dad shot the literal fireworks, the metaphorical ones had ruined the day. And unfortunately my feelings about fireworks are forever associated with those metaphorical ones my childhood was so often witness to. There's nothint but panic and fear and a desire to hide under the covers and pretend it's all okay.

As you can imagine none of this really lays a great foundation for celebrating the 4th, fireworks or not.

I didn't grow up in a very patriotic family. We were poor working folk. Money was a hard topic. We were rural and low class and in this part of America in the 80s and early 90s, that meant something different than it does now. It was outlaw country then, for us at least, real rednecks like the warring for unions kind. And outlaws like the we don't fuck with cops kind. American was just a small part of our identity, the smallest. Everything else was just so much more pressing, right? So this "holiday" that my parents would still have to work on was always more about my dad getting drunk on my mom's birthday than America. America took a backseat to my mom wanting a day for herself in a life slowly killing her and my dad wanting to let loose because being a fucking adult sucks bricks especially when you're killing your body for barely enough money to keep everybody dressed and fed. And as shitty as all that sounds, I'm very glad that on top of all the trauma my childhood gave me, I didn't also get brainwashed into blind patriotism or religion. I feel like it left me open, if I somehow worked through the trauma at least, to bigger, different ideas, to be curious, to ask questions, and to demand better.

What exactly are we celebrating anyway? America is rarely any of the things we were taught in school. And the older I get and more I learn, the more I realize how little there is to celebrate. We won a war for our sovereignty and immediately started doing the same exact things to other people that we started a war for in the first place. I think we have a lot of work to do before it's time to celebrate, but I certainly don't shun others for wanting to use time off or whatever excuse to have a good time with some good food, friends, and family...if you leave the fireworks out of it at least.

And even if somehow I could get past all that, my friend who was murdered back in 2002 had a birthday on July 3rd, and even this many years later, as I always say when I write about him, he stays on my mind. Loss and grief are weird things whether it's the loss of a friend in a tragic, unexpected, and senseless way or the loss of childhood to trauma and pain. They're always there. They're always the same just learn to grow and shape yourself around them.

Halloween is the better holiday anyway.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

What TF Sarah


  1. I do love fireworks, although not for 2 weeks before and still going on 2 weeks after the 4th, once is enough. But I also totally agree with you, I'm team Halloween.

  2. I love your brutal honesty. I can honestly say that I didn't live that life, but experienced trauma in other ways. I never thought about it before but it really makes a lot of sense. I don't trust blindly and especially not anything these days. But throughout my life I've always been like that especially about organized religion, the bible, the government. I just don't buy it. I can't. I am also very easily scared and loud noises causes this almost autistic response where at times I will literally shut down, hands over ears. Used to embarrass my kids when we go to those teenage clothes stores like Rue 21. I would literally be in tears to get out of there.

  3. I love watching fireworks, but I totally get where you are coming from and it gets really old when people start letting them off 2 weeks before the 4th and continue 2 weeks after. Get over it.

    I'm team Christmas over here though.

  4. While fireworks a pretty and magical spectacles to watch, they become more and more unpopular in terms of pollution and noise disturbance - especially for pets. Plus in many areas it's so dry in summer it's downright a fire hazard.
    Love your last statement about Halloween - very YOU! :-)