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My mom's birthday is on July 5. She would be 57. When she was growing up, she thought — and her parents let her believe — that all the fireworks taking place around her birthday were for her, to celebrate her birthday.

It wasn't until she was a little older that she learned the truth; the fireworks were not actually for her birthday, they were for Independence Day.

How disappointing that must have been! I'm pretty sure that, right up until her last birthday, she was still a little miffed by that reality.

Nevertheless, she always loved fireworks. We always searched the skyline right after dark for fireworks while at the beach in the Outer Banks.

As a family, we always attended the fireworks at the Carroll County Farm Museum. And my brother-in-law, a firework fan himself, has entertained us the past few years with small fireworks and sparklers for my mom's birthday.

I recall, as a child, getting to the Farm Museum early on the Fourth of July, spreading our blanket and playing until the show began. We watched in awe as the sky exploded with purple and blue and pink. Then we piled back in the car and waited forever to get out of the parking lot. When we were a little older, we had moved and could see the fireworks from our front yard. Our friends would come over and we would play games in the yard with friends until the show began.

When I was in college, I spent several Fourth of July holidays with my family at Oregon Ridge Park. If you think fireworks are a spectacle, you should see the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra put on its show with fireworks set to music!

In my 20s, I lived in Fells Point and from my roof I could see fireworks all over the city, including the Inner Harbor. I always found fireworks to be entertaining, but I've never been as enthralled as my mother was. We've had young children for several years now, and since fireworks are loud and typically late in the evening, we haven't gone out of our way to make plans to see fireworks. But this year we've decided to start being front and center for fireworks on the Fourth.

Since my mom's passing in the fall, somehow I feel the need to carry on her passion for fireworks. And maybe I can even kid myself that they are for her.

I'm writing this column just prior to the Fourth, and I can't wait. I will be thinking of my mom with every "ooohhh" and "aaahhhh." And while we're watching, I'll be sure to make the connection between the fireworks and my mother for my children, so they grow up knowing Nonna loved fireworks. Maybe they will come to love the show as much as she did.

Besides, it's time to build these traditions so my children also have good memories. Maybe it will be the Farm Museum, maybe Oregon Ridge, maybe a pool party. Regardless of the location, I know one thing -- there will be fireworks, bringing lots of people together to be awed and entertained.

And at least for this year, I'm going to hop on board with my stepdad, who once suggested to my mom that maybe, just maybe, those fireworks really were for her after all.

Happy birthday, mom. Happy Independence Day, Carroll County.

Kym Byrnes writes from Finksburg. E-mail her at kymbyrnes@gmail.com.


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