This week in California a wildfire started when fireworks from a gender reveal party sparked the parched vegetation and just like that burnt the equivalent of 5700 rugby fields or 131 Auckland CBDs. And that's Central Business District in case you think this is a subversive advertisement for an upcoming referendum.
As with other important American subjects; Donald Trump, the Kardashians, legalised marijuana (there it is again), interested friends seek my intel. Simply put, a gender reveal is when an expecting couple announces the gender of their unborn child with a grandiose gesture.
A well struck golf ball exploding in a shower of colour, popping a balloon filled with coloured confetti, lighting up the Burj Khalifa, or in this case, releasing fireworks in the requisite baby blue or pink are all gender reveals.
My attitude towards the gender reveal reflects my general ambivalence towards a baby's gender. For a start it's not my baby and furthermore, as long as the baby arrives safely and the mum is healthy, then that's what matters to me.
With most of the world living in conditions very different to the freedoms New Zealanders can experience even with level 2 restrictions, it appears that gender reveals have replaced well-accepted baby showers and are giving expecting parents a sense of sharing their excitement with people they would otherwise celebrate with in person.
The gender reveal joins the list of interesting American celebrations, different to how New Zealand operates. The wedding rehearsal dinner escapes me. Held the night before the wedding (goodbye beauty sleep) and paid for traditionally by the groom's family, it includes the immediate families of both parties plus partners, attendants plus partners, close aunts, uncles and cousins and their partners, plus people traveling long distance. Sounds like a wedding right there.
For years I was staunchly negative on Halloween and I still struggle to call it a holiday. Let's call it what is it. A candy grab, and usually not even good candy. Although the moment I saw our daughter at her first Halloween parade I was converted.
I used to equate holidays with a day off work, but Halloween is not alone in the US for holidays that do not warrant an actual holiday. Federal holidays are observed by the banks and schools, private employers do not need to offer a day off, some holidays are on the calendar but not observed, and then there is the slew of state holidays that add to the confusion. No wonder our preschool text group of 21 mums blows up the night before a holiday asking if we are expected at school.
My friends in the US are fatigued from Covid. They are wary about pre-school even with preschoolers wearing masks. Older children have recommenced home schooling. Adult children are crowding the house as college campuses are closed. Play dates are still off. Dinner parties are still off. Maskne is a thing.
One friend had a drive-by baby shower. Friends have hosted drive-by birthday parties, Elsa performing her magic on the front lawn. Restaurants have moved to sidewalks and carparks. Gyms have moved to carparks, rooftops and backyards. It's sad, it's frustrating, and now the skies are ablaze as ash and smoke fill the air.
I understand the desire to share little moments of joy with those you love, especially right now, and with our good fortune to have been in NZ before Covid hit I can't fully grasp the feelings of despair and hopelessness. Perhaps I will soften my stance a little. As long as it sparks joy and not a wildfire I'll get on board.