A 24th like no other

And I don’t mean because it’s celebrated this year on the 18th. But there’s good news.

As a kid, this was a magnificent day. Spring had been around for a while but there was the odd snow storm that reminded us that we were still in Canada. The 24th of May was a big deal around our household.

We would do things like get Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch and then head out to the beach at Goderich, Bayfield, or Grand Bend. We certainly weren’t alone. It seemed like everyone else was there. The beaches, parks, and streets were packed. It was a chance for the first swim of the year! I have absolutely no memories of the first swim being more than a quick dunk and then running out of Lake Huron. It was still brutally cold.

Then, it was home for the first barbeque of the season. That usually involved digging around in the basement to find it and the leftover briquettes from last year. Squirt some of the lighter fluid on them, toss in a match, and wait 45 minutes until they got hot enough to use. They had to be glowing red with white ashes appearing. No flames were tolerated in our house. Some minutes later (and it was never a science), the burgers were done and we enjoyed this special meal. The dinner was always capped off with rhubarb pie. Then, we’d wait until the sun went down.

It was out to the backyard where my parents would had purchased one of those fireworks kits. We’d start by running around with those sparkler things until they were all done and then move on to setting off the rest of the collection. It was always a real process because you didn’t want an errant spark to set off the whole box!

The grand finale? You got it! It was always the Burning Schoolhouse. It was always a major, major disappointment. It just never burned with any enthusiasm. Sort of like this one…

Then, it was back to school on Tuesday. There was a real sense that the end was in sight because there were only a few Mondays left.

Later, as an educator, much of this tradition remained. The lake is still cold; Colonel Saunders is still in business, and we tried to replicate the fireworks show. It seemed more impressive in memory. Fortunately, there were community firework shows that are easily within a drive. The Tuesday after Victoria Day was again, the countdown to the of the year. It was time to make sure that the entire course was covered! It was time to make sure that all the assessment ducks were lined up. It was planning for year end activities. I can’t think of any educator that wouldn’t flip out for that opportunity right now with a healthy society and a healthy school.

And here we are in 2020. Schools are closed and parents, students, and educators are all on edge.

We can go to Home Hardware and shop with strangers but we can’t have a family picnic or fireworks night. Actually, I’m not sure it’s even legal where I live. We obviously know why and we’re planning on a big family event when it becomes possible again. Fortunately, the ban on going to parks has been lifted; I saw there were people playing tennis on this morning’s dog walk. We’re supposed to get a huge rain but if it is over, there’s a park in our future. We’ll give everyone a wide berth but we will make sure to say hi to anyone we might pass. There’s no hunting for charcoal; we now have propane for an instant on barbeque. While we’re still able to barbeque all winter with this convenience, there still is something special about burgers and eating outside at this time of year. Sadly, the water levels in Lake Erie are high and the beaches were fenced off at last look. I’m the only one that likes rhubarb so that will be on hold until we can get some and make some stewed rhubarb.

It definitely will be a 24th of May like no other.

But, you know what?

I’m not aware of anyone in my circles that has had a health issue with the virus. For that, I am truly thankful. We all have been affected in our lives and what we can or cannot do. We know that things will get better. We are so fortunate to have a Prime Minister and Premier who have embraced scientific evidence and are making decisions based on the advice they’re given.

In the history of Victoria Days, this one definitely will have an asterisk beside it.

Oh, and the best news if this matters to you? Victoria Day falls on the 24th next year!

And, if you need a fireworks fix, this is spectacular.

Happy Victoria Day!


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