fireworks - Photo by Anthony Roberts on Unsplash

Happy New Year! Can’t believe it’s the end of another year. A decade, in fact. As we watch the fireworks from our apartment in Austin, my family and I, we are reminded of the differences in experiences where we have resided in our lifetime so far. In the Bay Area in Northern California, where I was born and raised, we would see a handful of fireworks erupt in the Berkeley Marina, usually shrouded by thick fog. Or Jack London Square in Oakland surrounded by a crowd of people. Or the Embarcadero area in San Francisco.

Here in Austin, TX, we watched fireworks erupt around 10pm blast with abundance, reminding us of our one and only time at Burning Man in 2018, when seemingly non-stop glitter and gold and sparkles shattered across the darkened sky to everyone’s delight. Then right at midnight, we saw fireworks erupt all around Lady Bird Lake, far and near, something we’d never have seen in Berkeley, CA.

But then we remembered the non-stop nightly fireworks in the Mexican cities of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende earlier this year, when we lived in a RV full-time. At first we were delighted by the flurry of festivities every night dotting and lighting the sky, a crescendo of brightness, color and noise. But then we grew weary, popping in squishy ear plugs to drown out the sound. Yet over time, it became part of the nightly landscape, the culture–the norm.

It’s funny how fireworks can bring about such pride, delight, yet can also, become the norm over time. I thought about how when I was going to an undergrad program at San Francisco State University, trying to get my K-8 teaching credential, I wanted to learn more about multicultural studies and was curious how cultures over time adopt and modify what other countries and cultures had invented, such as gunpowder by the Chinese and how it evolved into fireworks and instruments used for war.

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