The box of explosives has sat in a corner of our upstairs bonus room for almost six months now. And, no, they are not that kind of explosives.
These are purely for entertainment purposes here in my corner of the Deep South, where they are brought out twice a year on New Year's Eve and Independence Day. They are harmless and perfectly legal as long as you live in a city without laws restricting the use of such devices, which I do.
Thank goodness, because enjoying a good fireworks display tops my list of favorite things to do on the fourth of July surpassing even a day on the water and homemade ice cream.
Why then, you may ask, does my family need to hoard our own collection of celebratory explosives when we could just head over to our citywide extravaganza?
Because five years ago, my husband and I quickly learned that grand fireworks displays and newborns do not mix.
Though they are beautiful and magical, fireworks are also loud and bright. It didn't take long to realize the frightening effect they could have on tiny babies, at least my babies.
As it turns out, this effect continues throughout the toddler and preschool years for us. A loud boom can haunt my almost-kindergartener for days. Her younger sister simply jumps into the nearest set of arms at the sound of any untimely noise.
Instead of putting a moratorium on all things pyrotechnical for the next five years, my husband and I decided to create our own. A light show in miniature, if you will.
This display of ours is nothing formal, technical or elaborate, though it has started to take on a more organized agenda in the last few years.
We almost always start with sparklers because anything that glittery and wand-like is a must for little girls. Our oldest can handle them herself now, but we just wave them in front of her sister. Either way, the flickering of sparks lights up everyone's faces.
Next, Dad brings out the sparkler's much larger cousins, roman candles, a few bottle rockets and, my favorite, parachutes. I am completely amused by the little flags floating down from the sky after a trail of colorful sparks.
Our most recent discovery are snappers, which are tiny, wrapped in paper and pop when hit on a hard surface. Whether we throw them on the ground or stomp them, the snaps they make take the place of louder firecrackers without sending the girls running.
And, that is it for our family Fourth of July fireworks show.
There are no dramatic floral patterns, waterfalls of lights or colorful rings lighting up the sky above our driveway. There are also no sonic-force booms or smothering smoke trails.
Over the years, I have learned it is possible to celebrate Independence Day without viewing a spectacular display full of illustrious, glowing designs. In fact, I almost prefer it.