Mixed Emotions on the 4th of July

Mixed Emotions on the 4th of July

(Image credit: Photo by Cory G on Reshot)

This was our first 4th of July since moving to the States, and my first one on US soil in about 10 years. I’ve got to say, I had some mixed emotions on the 4th of July, and I wasn’t the only one. When I was growing up, we weren’t big on 4th of July celebrations, but it did take on some significance being overseas.

In Holland and then in South Africa, I was one of only a handful of Americans in social circles. As a result, I was the one who had to mark the occasion. It also meant that I was something of the arbiter of truth for all things American – a bit odd, but still fun.

In South Africa, Dean and I established some 4th of July traditions. He would make chili and we would grill “real American hot dogs” (that I would hunt for in the days leading up to the 4th). We’d make hot wings and mozzarella sticks. We’d invite some awesome friends and family and have a little party where we’d laugh and have fun and everyone would make jokes about the US or SA or whatnot.

On the 3rd this year, we went to a local 4th of July event. It was… odd. There were food vendors and people selling booze. You could bring a picnic and sit on the grass, but you weren’t allowed to bring the booze out of the designated area. We ended up moving in there so we could have a couple drinks, but there wasn’t anything happening. It was basically a busy, packed event of people… waiting around for fireworks. They did have bouncy castles and rides, but it was $15 and seemed like a waste with Harley still so small.

We ended up going home early, which was a good thing. Harley tried to watch the fireworks from our backyard, but she really didn’t like them. Neither did the cats. I was very glad that we were home and could take care of everyone.

For the 4th, we had a small fire and made hot dogs, chili and had a “traditional” meal of chili cheese fries and dogs. It felt a bit more like 4th of July for me, even though it was by doing a tradition we started in SA.

I feel so mixed here. When I was overseas, I was “the American one”, but now that we are here, I am most definitely the foreigner. It’s the price I pay for being unique and all, but it’s odd.

Maybe it’s because it’s also hard to feel patriotic right now. I am so appalled by what’s happening in the States right now. This country is in such a dark place right now, it’s hard to celebrate. And based on some news I read, I’m not the only one – a lot of Americans right now are saying it’s hard to be proud to be American, with a record low level of patriotism in the country.

At the same time, there’s a reason we moved here. We wanted Harley to have more opportunities, and I already see how right we were on that front. Dean and I also have more opportunities – work is going well for both of us, and we have more options to do things, go places, etc. It was the right move to make, even though this country isn’t perfect.

I am trying to volunteer with campaigns, to help change the politics here. I’m also trying to raise an amazing human who can change the world, too.

I guess the point is that I have mixed emotions on the 4th of July. It’s wonderful to celebrate the good things about this country, but of course, it will be clouded by the negatives. We are enjoying embracing all the wonderful aspects of being in the States, but our traditions are still rooted in South Africa.

Mixed Emotions on the 4th of July


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