"And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there..." —The Star-Spangled Banner
Being an early bird I had already been up since 5:00 am tinkering away on my MacBook. A fourth boom and I grabbed my phone and went to the window. I could hear the girls talking upstairs; obviously the booms woke them. A fifth boom and then I saw it: the spectacular flower of an exploding firework. Then multiple booms with more reds and whites and blues and a myriad of other colors.
I aimed the camera to try and capture a firework mid-flower, instead of calling the police, but the booms stopped. I waited, the girls came downstairs (which was around the time they wake up anyway), and the fireworks stopped.
These weren't just a box of illegal jumbo fireworks bought in Nevada or Mexico. No, these were pretty cool fireworks. Disneyland pretty. The stadium-quality variety. Shot off at 5:28 in the morning for over five minutes down the street in the vacant lot where the local weekly farmer's market is held.
Disruptive? Yes. Annoying? Yes. Pretty? Yes. Dangerous? Maybe, but since they exploded over a vacant lot, probably not. Illegal? Well, yes, considering that fireworks of any kind are illegal in Santa Cruz County.
The Mama got up shortly after the girls did ask asked what the booms were. I told her and the first thing she said was, "Did they girls get to see them?"
I told her no, that they didn't get to see them. The booms woke them, though. But after we were all up and sunrise yawned and stretched her lavender hands skyward, I reflected and gave thanks with a silent reverent prayer that I had my family with me, safe and sound and healthy, with sustenance and shelter, fairly secure in a seaside community at the South end of the greater Bay Area in the Golden State of one of the greatest nations ever to be created and sustained in the history of the world. A nation of immigrants wanting a better life for themselves, the "huddled masses," to have the freedoms they didn't have in their homelands, whether driven out because of religious and/or political persecution, disease, famine and/or especially war.
Granted, it was at the expense of those who had already lived her for thousands of years, but that's a story for another time, and not one to be told in any form fully sanitized to validate America's Thanksgiving folklore.
No, I was just thankful in the moment as I try to do daily reflecting on who I am and what I have, taking little for granted when I'm mindfully present.
But then the sentiment of a family member interrupted my prayer with an important question, one she posted the day before when referencing a video about the harsh reality of Syrian refugees clamoring for safety in Greece (or insert your Western country of choice here). It was right after my weekly beach run, the one where I share a picture of the remaining natural bridge at Natural Bridges State Park and some creative and cutesy phrase. Of course it was "This week on God Bless everyone beach run."
She had posted:
Imagine this is your family, fleeing for your lives, trying to provide your children with a safe and decent childhood.
My response was: Amen. But most of us don't want to imagine, so we don't.
Wherever you fall on the ideological and political spectrum, and whatever you believe we should be doing or not doing to address this latest global crisis, most of you will go through your lives unscathed, just as hopefully many of your children and children's children will as well, but as I wrote last week, together the aggregate power of your safety plans may just change the world.
Maybe. But with the rockets' red glare from this morning, to those from this afternoon when my daddy time with the girls turned into a battle of #BhivePower wills (that I lost), the only proof I need is that my home and family are still here with me, and I with them.
Plus the proof that we still live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The brave who shouldn't fear but be aware, who shouldn't blame but be responsible, who shouldn't resent but be empathic, who shouldn't hate but still be wary and vigilant to protect country, community and family. The brave who, if they can truly provide their children with a safe and decent childhood, should do just that.
And maybe, just maybe, we'll give ourselves a new reason to give thanks by helping those fighting for their lives abroad because of war and terrorism, and those fighting for their lives at home because of economic hardship and prolonged hunger.
Happy Thanksgiving America. We know you can do this.