I meant to post these some time ago but...well, you know how it is.
Anyway, while we might not have many family traditions the ones we have are appropriately weird. No, not "rum, sodomy, and the lash" weird, but...well, let me tell you about the 4th of July.
Oregon is one of those lame, namby-pamby, nanny states where fireworks are concerned. Pyro that can fly, or explode, is illegal in Oregon. We're limited to sparklers, fountains, and smoke. "Oregon law forbids possession, use or sale of fireworks that fly, explode or travel more than six feet on the ground or 12 inches in the air. Bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers are ILLEGAL in Oregon."
But the great State of Washington? Boy fucking howdy, you can blow the living shit out of yourself in the Evergreen State. Mortars, Roman candles, parachute flares, white phosphorus...you name it, you can fire it off north of the river.
So, like 99.6% of Oregonians, every July 4th we cross the river to buy a bagful of illegal fireworks.
This year it was no exception. A big part of the reason is that we enjoy the hell out of the brutal free-market in fireworks that reigns in Vancouver. The fireworks vendors are wild, at each others' throats like mad kebab sellers in an Iraqi souq. They don't try and convince you that you want to buy their stuff (probably sensible, since they all buy this pyro wholesale from the same Chinese makers); they try and convince you that the other guy is a big dirty cheating theving bastard who is screwing you like a ten-dollar-a-go-Yokohama-waterfront-hooker.
There's no subtlety here. No meeching "You might not find our competitor's product suits your needs" bullshit. It's right out there, man; we rule, they suck, neener, neener. It's the sort of thing I'll bet like hell the Walton kids would love to do to Target but their lawyers talk them out of. Here it's right in your face.
For a change we went to BOTH the TNT tent and the Blackjack "Pirate" store. Both were utter madness, and we ended up spending way too much for shoddy Chinese pyrotechnics. I did appreciate the attempt at topical political comment by some nameless Asian entrepreneur:
We avoided the bouncy houses and the snow cones and the other touristy crap, paid for our illegal fireworks, and left. And when I say we paid too much, well...at least we stayed within budget. This gomer's poor family is probably STILL eating ramen noodles to pay for his ridiculous pallet full of demo:
That evening we proceeded to go out to our little Astor playground and shoot off all the pyrotechnics. It was loud and shiny, it had absolutely no connection with the United States, liberty, independence, or anything else patriotic. It was pure ur-male-dom; making things go fast, make loud noises, and blow up. The Boy commented as he shot Roman candles down the street: "This is just like Gandalf fighting the Balrog!!"
Just what Tom Jefferson would have said about that, I honestly haven't the slightest idea.