I am the original New Year’s Eve Grinch. I admit this freely. I’m grinchy and grumpy about Halloween, also – and Opening and Closing Olympic Games and the countless other ceremonies that can seemingly only be celebrated with explosives.
New Year is meant to be the time for shrugging off old (usually bad habits).
But not Fireworks, it would seem, despite the vast numbers of terrified animals who go missing on this night, and with not the tiniest concern for asthmatics and countless others with breathing difficulties. The noise and air pollution are unbelievably bad, just when the world is trying to address the terrifying and overwhelming problems these bring. But it’s not enough to create a public outcry to call a halt. There ARE other choices, but it would take courage and a heap of imagination and creativity to find alternatives.
My hatred began with one terrified dog. He and I would dive under Mum and Dad’s bed at the first Big Bang. I would be shamed into showing my nose outdoors long enough to wave around a sparkler or two, but of course, older brothers made sure a few crackerjacks were thrown around my feet to make me dance and retreat back under the bed with my beloved Kimmy once again.
But surely this was not really enough to inspire such strong antagonism towards fireworks in general? No. Something far worse. A group of kids gathered in a secluded spot in a large paddock behind a house (yes, this did happen in suburbia way back then), and the boys put on an early pyrotechnics show. They used someone’s Dad’s oxy torch to light them, and the inevitable happened. Not to them… unfortunately! No… a small female bystander on the outskirts of the group was wearing a dress that came right up to her throat with a lacy collar, long sleeves, a full gathered skirt, just down past her knees. As the boys carelessly waved their ‘lighter’ around with much bravado, the flame caught her dress. Being kids, with obviously no knowledge of the correct actions, the boys grabbed her hands and tried to run her to the tap, some distance away, to put the fire out. Of course, it simply fanned the flames.
She lived… but she was scarred horrifically from neck to wrists and knees. I don’t know what happened to her as she grew up. Her family moved far away. But I see the horror of that day as if it were yesterday. And I hear her screams. And I cry again.
The classically talented Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote the oft-quoted love poem to Robert Browning –
‘How do I Love thee? Let me count the ways… ‘
The Diligent Discoverer of Parodies Lost (namely me, the Fireworks Fighter)
wrote this poem on behalf of Animals and Asthmatics Everywhere–
How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.
I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when booms and burns are out of sight
For the ends of Breathing and ideal Space
I despise thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by solar and even candle-light.
I abhor thee freely, as Animals flee in Fright.
I hate thee totally, against all Principles we have Raised,
I detest thee with the passion of past abuse
In my ancient grief
For my pets’ confusion and disbelief,
I never loved thee… never lost the thought
Of the terrible lessons your explosions taught.
Horrors and tears for my loved ones, all of my life!
– and if God choose,
I shall but Hate thee more after Death.
Think you get the general feeling by now… huh?