Well, it’s that time of the year again where the year ends and a new year starts. It’s a time to look back on things that we’ve archived and to think about the things we still want to archive in the next years. And to be honest, there are still a lot of things I want to do but when I look back, I know there’s already a lot that I’ve done already…

But first: Happy New Year to everybody, because while I’m writing this, the new year has already started somewhere on this planet…

DSC03334First of all, I hope my dogs won’t be too stressed by all the fireworks in our area. Lasja, my small female dog is already unsure about all those loud noises so to comfort her, I just put her in bed next to me where the sounds aren’t as loud. Just letting her sleep seems to help against her fears.

Cees, however, was just barking loud against every loud noise he heard. So, after a few minor corrections he’s just in guard-mode now. Then again, he too now sleeps through most of the noise.

No, I didn’t give them something to calm down. But trying to keep two dogs calm means that I have to be calm too. So, not too much celebrations now but just a lot of rest, next to my dogs. Teaching them by example that they can be calm, because I’m calm too. I hope they’ll rely on my confidence to get through the upcoming celebrations.

As a pet lover, I think it would be a good idea if fireworks would be banned. This stuff can be pretty dangerous, as is proven by the many accidents that have already occurred in the Netherlands. Already a few people have lost their ability to count to ten and I wonder how many more people will lose that ability this year. How many will not be able to see the fireworks next year? Fireworks is dangerous and should be handled by professionals. Instead, the pretty fireworks tend to be handled by adults, who like to look at pretty things while the things that go BOOM! tend to be in the hands of adolescents who are also very happy to experiment with it.

I remember when I was young and my father would go with me to light fireworks. I was about 11 years old and my dad decided to light a Roman candle, then threw it in the streets, expecting it to explode. Well, that’s not what Roman candles do and if he had read the manual he would have known that. Then again, my dad could never read Chinese which made it so much harder to read it… For about two minutes everyone in the street had to dodge fiery balls of colored light that were shooting in random directions. Sure, it was pretty and gave us all a great exercise, but what if one such bolt would hit an open bag full of fireworks?

After that incident, I became more careful with fireworks, although I did continue to play with it for a few more years. But I learned that it’s expensive and generally it’s just a short-term pleasure. And the result is never as pretty as is advertised.   So I decided that it’s just not worth the effort. I’d rather spend the money on a great meal, that’s interesting to cook, tastes great and which keeps my belly filled for hours. A meal shared with someone else makes it even better.

So, personally I don’t mind that I don’t play with fireworks anymore. And my pets are very happy when there are no loud noises or colored flashed in the area. But why should others also stop playing with fireworks, even though they seem to enjoy it and don’t mind spending thousands of Euro’s on fireworks? What gives me the right to decide for those others?

Well, in a few days we will have a good reason. When hospitals fill up with fireworks victims again, people who have lost an eye, some fingers or who end up with horrible burn marks. Then the discussion will most likely start up again about banning fireworks, with an exception for those who are professional enough to handle it with care. A discussion that will be forgotten when those victims start to heal again until it bleeds to death and the next new year approaches. It’s an everlasting circle of discussions that don’t seem to end as long as no one decided to really put a ban on fireworks.

Well, banning fireworks is just my opinion. An opinion that is shared by more people here in the Netherlands. But as long as it’s just an opinion, it’s like a toothless lion. It won’t change anything. So I hope that this will change before we’re at 2014. I hope we can start 2014 with such a ban, where only experienced people will be allowed to play with fireworks and communities will put their resources together to get such a safe display of fireworks in their area. That way, people will be joining hands more often, getting closer to one another and best of all, people will start celebrating more with their neighbors. And pet owners will know that their pets will just be exposed to loud noises for a few hours instead of nearly three days. They would still be scared, but not as long as they are now.

But as I said, a side effect of such a ban would be that neighborhoods would have to join together if they do want a pretty fireworks display. They they could e.g. hire a professional and set up a nice site for the display, and they could come together celebrating the new year, drinking, dancing and getting to know each other better. A ban on fireworks might do this, because we would change from individuals who each have about 50 Euro’s worth of so-so fireworks into a group with 500 Euro’s worth of spectacular stuff. (Or more.)

But, it would be a change in the ways how we celebrate the new year. And if there’s one thing very difficult then it’s changing things. People don’t like to change things. But I hope this change will happen in the new year…



And the first information about the fireworks devastation’s in the Netherlands are in the news already. Some Dutch news articles about this damage:

  • A ten year old boy was critically injured with heavy burns on his back when a piece of fireworks got inside his collar.
  • A metal slide was blown on top of the roof of some building because of some heavy fireworks. Also, a lot of broken windows.
  • A home in Velp is severely damaged by heavy fireworks. Doors and walls are damaged and a small fire broke out. Fortunately, no one was at home at the moment of the explosion.
  • And about 70 eyes have been damaged. They expect the number to rise to somewhere between 200 and 300. And half of those will have some permanent damage. Maybe even permanent blindness in one or both eyes.

As expected, a lot of damage again. Let’s hope the discussion about a ban of fireworks will finally have some effect…