Don’t go, the show isn’t finished yet

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 9, 2008

As a child, I hated it when the school calendar fell in such a way that there were more vacation days before Christmas Day than after.

If Christmas was on a Friday, then we often got nearly two full weeks out of school before the big day. Then, we only had one week left of vacation time after Christmas before heading back to school.

I was smart enough to know that the anticipation of Christmas would make me mentally rush through the first two weeks, all in hopes of getting to the big day.

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I didn’t enjoy the first two weeks off from school as much as I could have, because I was rushing them for something better.

But my childhood brain wasn’t alone. We all do it. We rush things in our heads to get to the next thing. That’s one of the reasons the phrase “stop and smell the roses” came into being.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked five minutes into the Natchez fireworks show on the bluff Friday night when nearly everyone around me began a mad dash to get out of dodge.

Families who had obviously arrived early enough to back their vehicles up to the fence on the north end of the bluff, put out lawn chairs and unload the children for a light show worthy of “oohs and aahhs” were suddenly pressed to evacuate the scene.

The exodus started with a parent looking to the sky who said “That’s about it, it’ll be over in a minute.”

Those around her agreed, and the packing began.

Granted, the Natchez fireworks show isn’t on par with those in much larger cities that may last 30 minutes or more. But, our show isn’t a measly five minute show either.

My guesstimate would be that we usually see between 10 and 20 minutes worth of fireworks shot from the barge in the middle of the river.

So as car engines cranked on every side of me, I tried hard to even hear the colorful fireworks exploding above us. The mood was ruined, for me and for all those piling into their cars.

And yet, the show was only half over, at worst.

The children around me seemed as baffled as I was. “The fireworks are still exploding, why are we leaving now,” their cries seemed to say. It hardly seemed fair.

Then, the cars with crying children on board left, taking the engine noises with them. I was left to enjoy at least a good five minutes of fireworks without the crowd.

But I couldn’t stop wondering why anyone would go to all the trouble to come to an event if they weren’t going to stay for more than half of it.

After the show was over — and the true grand finale occurred — we walked back to our parking spot. Traffic was a mess, I noticed. Cars were traveling in the same direction in two lanes on Canal and Madison streets. I realized that much of the rush to leave early was, of course, to beat traffic.

But five minutes of fireworks hardly seems worth the trip to the bluff. Why not park further away and walk to avoid the traffic? Or why not simply wait on the bluff after the show was over while traffic thinned out?

Because we — as people — rush things. We don’t think about the moment, we think about the next moment.

We can’t enjoy our holiday vacation because it’s not Christmas day yet. But then, before you know it, it’s time to go back to school and you’ve rushed the whole vacation.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop and watch the fireworks.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or