My best memories from my childhood are all my family get togethers over all the holidays. The 4th of July was always the best… bare feet… summer… Grandma's homemade ice cream… Grandpa's grilling… cousins… slip-n-slide… running through the sprinklers… and the grand finale of our own fireworks show!

All the men surrounded the grill and set up a variety of fireworks displays. The spinners nailed to a post was so awesome! All the women gathered in the kitchen talking and catching up. All us kids running around free of all adults! (Hey, it's small town Nebraska where the neighborhood took care of us.)

Then as I grew into a teen in high school the family night was split to include time with friends. This is when I realized my hometown actually had its own fireworks show! We drove to a couple different small towns to watch the public fireworks displays. Again, free of adults! (I was an angel.. just ask my mom.)

Then there was college where still time was split between family and friends. Then I was lucky to get a job in Denver soon after graduating at CBS Denver. The news never stops and no holidays are guaranteed off, 

I worked my first 4th of July in Colorado in 2001. I consoled myself with the thought that we could celebrate in the days leading up to the 4th just like we did in Nebraska, where you can buy and use fireworks the entire week before the 4th! 

Instead I found out that you can't shoot off your own fireworks in Colorado and a little part of my childhood cried. But, I was an adult by now and had to act like one. I embraced the public shows the various cities and organizations hosted.

Then I started dating Shawn, a guy with two young boys. They were 5 and 6 at the time. Immediately I knew I wanted them to experience the 4th of July as I had. My sister has taken up the family 4th of July celebration. In the past 6 years we have made it to Nebraska 4 times to celebrate the 4th of July, including this year.

Last year we also had Squeaks, our baby girl 10 months at the time, with us. I kept her inside during the loud fireworks part. We watched from the window of my sister's house and she was mesmerized by all the colors.

I couldn't wait for this year where she would be old enough to stay outside during the show if she could handle the pops and bangs! The boys were so excited because now at 11 and 12 years old they are allowed a little more responsibility with the fireworks - from picking out their own & paying for them to setting up the display.

We had a small family gathering and fireworks show Friday night. Until the first bang I was excited as ever! BANG! Everything in me froze. 

I didn't feel the glee and nostalgia like usual. I was happy to see our baby girl, now 22 months, amazed and surprised. I tried to shake off the feeling.

It just got worse. Every panic nerve in me tightened. As everyone oooed and awed I sat trying not to squeeze Squeaks too tight. I watched every spark and stretched my neck in every which way to see where embers fell.

Squeaks shrieked and giggled in delight and mimicked her older cousin in covering her mouth in surprise. I found myself forcing a smile and asking, "how many left?"

All I could think was "fire." 

On our way to my sister's house we saw smoke. I knew immediately it was a wildfire or brush fire. We drove 10-miles past my sister's house to Lake Maloney and found a brush fire with fire also cresting in trees. It was right up against the swim/recreation beach. (Ever the journalist, I took video and sent it to the local NBC station, KNOP.) The fire seemed to be contained quickly. 

While I treasure all the sparklers I've held… the spinners that flew off and "chased" my dad and Grandpa… family celebrations… I think for the first time ever in my life I was over fireworks. 

Thoughts of chasing fireflies… flashlight tag… outdoor movie or fireworks displayed projected on the side of the house… tons of fun sans fireworks. What mattered was being with family. Being together, eating a meal together and celebrating together are what matters.

What #NoFireworksFun do you have planned?