A few days ago, my daughter bought a pack of sparklers to share following a family celebration held on a warm evening in our backyard. She insisted I take one in hand which she then lit for me, and watched as I held it on our deck in the near dark. I was hesitant, only because I had never actually held one before. But when my sweet daughter offered, I couldn’t refuse.
I had never held a sparkler in my hand before. I’m a grown woman, just turned forty-nine, for the first and only time, thank you, but I have always harbored a small fear of those tiny sparks of fire, undoubtedly left over from childhood. My parents, bless them, were like many, slightly overprotective, and instilled in me a heavy dose of caution in respect to campfires, matches, and by extension, fireworks.
Oh we used to go to the city shows when I was little. I remember sitting on the tailgate of our pickup truck or standing on a hill or in a parking lot, wherever we could find the best spot to see the fireworks shows the city would produce. I would stay close to my parents, ears firmly covered with my hands, while we watched and oohed and aahed at the vivid colors on display.
Later, I recall watching firework celebrations with my own kids, though larger crowds in our adopted home city often made actually getting to a show and finding room to watch more awkward or problematic. We did manage though a few trips to see fireworks from the Reds stadium downtown, and once on a memorable family vacation to Florida.
I stood and watched that little sparkler as the long stick burst into crackling flashes, a ball of light similar to the head of a dandelion, ready to be released into the wind. I held on tight to the end as it burned down, a personal firework at close range, though without the bright colors and loud boom that accompanies the larger ones.
How could something so beautiful, so innocent, hold so much secret meaning. Though it lasted only a few moments, that ephemeral flare was a reminder that life is fleeting, and deserves our full attention. We should make the most of the time we have; as families, as communities, as human beings.
In this day and age, fear and uncertainty are plagues that haunt us all. It is more important than ever that we take the time to see beauty, to enjoy the little moments, to share in new experiences when we have the opportunity. We need to live in the moment, like most of us have always aspired to do anyway.
I have you have some special moments of your own as we move into this weekend, a special holiday for those of us in the U.S., as we celebrate Independence Day on Friday. Make the most of it!