Thursday, 27 June 2013

Thursday, or Thereabouts - June 27, 2013

The Last Day of School
© leo tomić - 
Woo Hoo! Remember the thrill? I sure do. Oh the joy of it all: ripping the paper off text books, coverings that had been so carefully cut, folded, applied and decorated ten months earlier; triumphantly handing the naked books back to the teacher; clearing out my desk only to discover that crumpled up test stuffed way in the back corner, the one with the big red "D" on it, then tossing the offensive paper in garbage can - no way that was ever coming home; gathering up the standard issue pink workbooks (Pink? What were they thinking??), some of my art work (only some because art was never my forte), a few remaining coloured pencils (a full set of twelve never survived ten months of gruelling work), and last by no means least, my prized possession, a wooden pencil box with a lid that slid open to reveal four bright yellow HB pencils and one slender white pen with blue lettering, "Etobicoke Board of Education". All got stuffed into a bag for homecoming, with one addition - a white envelope containing The Report Card.

I recall that one year, the teacher called each one of us to her desk to receive the envelope. She whispered a comment and the room number for next year's class, "Well done April. Room eleven." It was a mixed message. I was already in Room 11, in fact I spent grades 4, 5 and 6 in Room 11 - the annual shuffling of rooms and teachers didn't get me anywhere it seemed. No matter, the last thing on my mind as I dashed out the school doors that day was next year's class. A vast expanse of uninterrupted playtime stretched out before me and September was nowhere to be seen on my radar.

I'll tell you what else was not on my radar way back when, Canada Day, or as it was then known, Dominion Day. Seems more attention was paid to Victoria Day, the long weekend in May. "The twenty-fourth of May is firecracker day," was the schoolyard chant. But all that began to change with 1967 and the celebration of our 100th birthday as a nation. From the lighting of the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill to Expo 67 to Bobby Gimby's "Ca-na-da", we all sang and celebrated.

Fast forward a few years, like over 40 of them, to today, and it's once again the last day of school. There is no desk for me to clear out, no text books to return, no wooden pencil case and thankfully no report card! But the strawberries are ripe for the picking and the Canada Day long weekend sits on the doorstep ready to kick off summer with a celebration of all things Canadian. It's not just a single day anymore but three days (and more in some locations) of festivities and fireworks across the country. It's a time for me to shake off the scales of cynicism and complaint and enjoy the privilege of living in this great land.

We're not perfect; we're not without problems; we've got critical issues and controversies that need tending, but not on this long weekend. This last day of school, this long weekend, I'm thrilled to be a part of the colourful mosaic that is Canada.

Be safe. Be happy. Be grateful.

(all photos unless otherwise noted: © April Hoeller)

1 comment:

  1. i just heard Red Skeleton's version of Oh Canada. on the radio, and, as always, moved me.
    It took an American, who was always very fond of our country (we gave him his 1st break, they say) really point out what Canada is all about.
    Loved the trip down memory lane. I can soo remember the hoards of kids literally bursting out of the school. Many were off to camp and many, like out family, were off to the cottage for the whole summer. Mum practically had the car revving, ready to head north. Great memories and like you said, a privilege.