Move abroad, and chances are, when there’s a holiday party, you’ll be invited.
I love holidays. I come from a family of holiday over-achievers. If there’s a day to be celebrated, there’s going to be a party. Or at least a gathering. And plenty of food and libations.
The 4th of July is my favorite celebration of summer. It doesn’t have the depressing undertones of Memorial Day (fellow military spouses might get what I mean here) or the “summer is over” feeling of Labor Day. It means I’m usually at a pool or a lake or a barbecue enjoying life in the USA.
This year, we’re in Croatia, and it’s the first time in a long time that Sarge has had to work on the 4th. I don’t get homesick often, but truth be told, today is one of those days that I miss my kids being in the neighborhood bike parade or the family going boating for the weekend or just hanging out with my parents and siblings and all of the cousins at my parents’ pool.
The boys and I wore red, white and blue anyway and met up with our band of brothers – the American expat group we met on Facebook. They invited us to a cookout.
We had the assignment of bringing watermelon, so I searched for one that would fit in my bicycle basket and could make it to our destination without incident. We succeeded.
Our hosts, a fantastic American nomadic couple traveling the world with their 7-month-old baby, had been preparing for days. They had a cooler full of ice (unheard of in Croatia!), real cheeseburgers (also unheard of in Croatia!) and buns, corn on the cob, vegetable skewers, lemonade and libations and a Frisbee game to take part in.
They also had American music, which I’ve sorely been missing, and chalk for the kids to mark their territory with a flag.
None of us could find fireworks here, but it didn’t matter. I may not have seen explosions in the sky or heard the “Star-Spangled Banner,” but I haven’t given up my national identity. The red, white and blue balloons we spotted on our bike ride to the expats’ party made us feel like we had arrived. We had found our people.
We are American expats abroad. We are lucky to be here. And we are lucky to be able to return home when we want to our baseball games and barbecues and flag-waving freedom.
Happy Independence Day, America! You are something to celebrate.