When you're a kid, the 4th of July is one of the holidays you look forward to the most.

By the 4th of July, you've already been out of school for a few weeks, and the newness of summer vacation has begun to wear off. You've already pestered your parents with "I'm bored!" to the point they're ready to tear their hair out. The 4th of July is a departure from the standard ho-hum every day, and provides a kid something to be excited about. It becomes something special.

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When I was in elementary school in Flushing, my parents were the parents that didn't let my brother and me do something just because all the other kids were doing it. "Oh, Ronnie's parents let him shoot off Cherry Bombs? Then Ronnie's parents can handle the hospital bill when Ronnie blows his fingers off--and he will." I even had cousins that were allowed to set off their own fireworks. But not us.

My brother and I got to celebrate the 4th of July with sparklers. To us, they seemed like fireworks for babies. (Please, parents of actual babies--don't give your babies sparklers. They'll blow their fingers off.) When the subject came up among our friends at school, they looked upon us with pity. "You didn't get any firecrackers? Not even a Roman candle?" Nope. We got sparklers.

If you've called Michigan home for a number of years, you know that not every 4th of July is necessarily a hot one. Sometimes, as darkness falls, it can begin to get cool enough where you want a jacket. And then there's the 4th of July that I remember most clearly.

It was the summer between 5th and 6th grades. It was the 4th of July and my brother and I were already kind of salty about not being able to participate in the same way that our friends--even cousins--were. It was windy and almost cold and our mother told us that she didn't think the weather was going to cooperate for us to light our sparklers this year.

We weren't having it.

We started to throw a fit like only fireworks-and-fun deprived pre-teens could. Mom told us we could try.

So, there we were, the three of us in our hoodies, huddled behind our little stucco house in Flushing and trying to shield the Bic lighter from the wind. (Mom actually had the Bic lighter, not us. But you probably figured that part out.) We were able to light a few sparklers that night between shivers, but I don't recall enough of them staying lit until they naturally burned out. The wind killed them all.

I think we got glow sticks the next year.

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