Moving to Canada meant we were exposed to a whole set of different customs. At least we didn’t have to learn the language like many other immigrants although some of the accents were tricky. That worked both ways. I remember asking a little friend of my daughter if she liked tomato soup. She looked doubtful which surprised me. Then I asked if she liked toMAYto soup. She smiled and nodded.
One of the new to us customs was fireworks on the 24th of May. I thought it was strange to keep celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday so long after her death until I recalled that in New Zealand we had been celebrating Guy Fawkes for many more hundreds of years. In the 60’s, Victoria Day was the big fireworks day and there were plenty of families nearby to enjoy them. In the houses around us lived about 20 kids and some days they all seemed to congregate on my lawn. My mother had warned me about the dangers of living on a corner.
Initially, we got together with a family across the street who also had three children. We probably set off the fireworks at their place as well but I can only recall us being in our back yard. The kids were all wildly excited as the light faded and we often started the show before it was properly dark. My children were young enough to wear snow suits and I never put them away for the season until after fireworks day. We could still have the odd cool night with frost at the end of May.
The kids grew up and had children of their own. My daughter’s two boys also had plenty of playmates. She didn’t live on a corner but at the end of a court. There was a convenient crack in the road just beyond the curve of the court and all the kids knew not to ride their various wheeled vehicles past it. My husband and I would join with our family and the neighbours in the court with their fireworks. The kids sat on the curb while the males set off the crackers in the middle of the road. For some reason, that was always a male duty. We all enjoyed watching the occasional rocket that flew sideways rather than rising into the air. Luckily nobody ever got hurt.
I am not sure when Canada Day became the prime fireworks occasion. This year, we took the easy way to watch the local display. No parking and no worries. At 9:45 p.m. we walked across the road. Then we leaned against the bridge railings where we had a prime view of the fireworks shooting into the black sky from the lake beyond us. Fireworks are still mesmerizing and you want to say OOH and AAH at a particularly vivid one. Well, there’s always next July 1st.