We’ve lived in Belgium now for a year and a half. I am pleased to say that I don’t feel homesick very often. But when it does happen, I’ve found it creeps up on me quickly. Out of nowhere, something will trigger it.
I didn’t actually think July 4th would make me homesick this year. I don’t remember it being a big deal last year. The saying, “out of sight, out of mind,” is true. Without any Independence Day celebrations or marketing around here, I didn’t think much of it. But then, visions of the 4th of July came into sight … via Facebook. Darn you, Facebook!
The 4th is one of my favorite holidays. I’ve always been patriotic. I am proud to be an American. I love our country, despite the fact that we still have a lot of serious issues to work on.
I love the fanfare of the holiday. It is the heart of summer. It is a casual holiday. No need to dress up and get out the fancy dishes like we do on Thanksgiving. No, just get out the red solo cups and paper plates. Throw on your gaudiest red, white, and blue attire. Or your cutest sundress, or jean shorts, or swimsuit. You are going to sweat, and get wet at the pool or from the sprinklers or from the fire truck hose at the local downtown party, so dress accordingly!
I love the parades. Adorable kids with their decorated wagons, scooters, and bikes, walking down the street in their hometown parade, bandanaed dogs panting alongside them. I love the barbecues (or cookouts, depending on where you are from). Hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, potato salad, watermelon, popsicles, strawberry shortcake, all needing to be eaten fast before the sun gets to it. Spending time in the downtown square, or on the beach, or at the lake, or at the neighborhood pool, or in the cul-de-sac, or in the backyard. Wherever, it’s with friends and family and the feeling of celebration.
Since I was a kid, though, I could do without the fireworks. Back then, they were too loud and stunning. Now, they are a fire hazard that scares dogs. Still, I can appreciate their beauty and display. I do love a good sparkler.
So, pictures of all of these things appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. My adorable nieces and nephew on their way to a neighborhood parade. One of my best friend’s family at the downtown parade where we would surely be if we were there. Other friends at beaches and lakes and small-town picnics. I was missing out. I was missing it.
So, what did I do? I chose not to wallow in it. There is no sense in that.
In the morning, before the deluge of Facebook posts got to me, I had a hair appointment. I took my stylist some red, white, and blue cheesecake cookies, festively wrapped, and told him about the holiday. He asked a lot about our traditions. He loves talking to me about America and Donald Trump.
Then, totally unrelated, sadly, my son and I took our late dog’s leftover food and treats to an animal shelter that had been looking for food donations. The shelter is in Waregem, Belgium, which is also the home of the Flanders Field American Cemetery. So, we went there, too. We toured the new visitor’s center and paid our respects to the patriots who are buried there. It was the most American thing I could think of to do around here.
At home, we grilled some chicken and veggies for dinner. We had hot dogs the night before and had watermelon tonight. I guess I am spreading the food out this week! To close out Independence Day 2017, I let my son watch Jaws for the first time. A great 4th of July movie!
I took a walk. I scanned my Facebook feed a few more times. I let myself feel homesick and nostalgic for a bit longer. I recognized that, God willing, I have many more 4th of July celebrations in the States in my future, but (probably) only two more in Belgium. Then I went to bed, recommitting myself to enjoying the here and now.