I’ve been feeling kind of ick all week. It took me a while to figure out exactly what was bothering me. I mean, besides the usual factors: unhelpful husband, wild children, dirt magnet aka house, life in a foreign country, whether or not they caught all those penguins that escaped from the zoo.
It finally dawned on me that was nagging at me was the upcoming American holiday we all know and love, the fourth of July.
Lots of things are kind of off in Japan. Christmas is all about Col. Sanders (you may think I’m joking, but sadly you are wrong,) Halloween is explained on morning news programs as an “American religious holiday,” (please don’t tell God,) Easter is celebrated exclusively at Disneyland. For the most part, I can lament the screwing up of these events with other English speaking foreigners, though Halloween I think is most closely shared with our neighbors up north. That’s Canada. But you know that. (Please say you know that.)
The point I am getting to is that Independence Day is pretty lonely around here. How appropriate. I mean, sure, there are the 42,000 service members stationed throughout the country, but they seem to have better things to do. From where we live, I can hear their fireworks and almost smell the hamburgers, but I’m not invited.
It’s still rainy season here in central Honshu, and when the weather is gloomy it is easier to ignore thoughts of family and friends back home, grilling hamburgers, drinking too much beer, and talking too much. Not that I ever do that. I like grilled hot dogs with my beer and too much talking.
For a number of years, I just kind of gamaned and ganbarued through July 4th. But now there are two other American passport holders in the house, and I feel compelled to celebrate. Being an American abroad can be kind of hairy sometimes. Lots of other nationalities don’t like American policies, though they do like to tell Americans about it. I want to instill in my children a sense of identity, not necessarily pride but at least an understanding of what it is to be American before they have to wade the murky depths of Japan’s Ministry of Education’s version of history.
So today we made an American flag cake. We had hamburgers and watermelon for dinner. We talked about how today is America’s birthday. I didn’t go into any details, for now that is enough. And though we won’t be doing any fireworks, (I want them in bed as soon as it gets dark!) the day didn’t pass unnoticed.
And I realized I’m not alone after all.
Happy fourth to all the Americans out there!