There are leftover hotdogs in the fridge, and towels in the dryer that need put away. Somebody needs to get out in that yard and clean up all those firecracker papers that were blown to bits. July 4th lasted seven or eight days, the result of the date falling in the middle of the week. The holiday had some surprises, like cloud bursts that delayed fun, and cool breezes that sent folks looking for jackets and blankets to wrap up in. We had friends that visited from a large city in Tennessee and they kept commenting how they loved being a part of the small town festivities. They chatted on and on about the feeling of Americana, the REAL celebration with REAL people, not just a show. We are proud of our flag and our soldiers and our independence here in the four states. I hope you had the opportunity to show some pride.
I’ve been lucky enough to be in other countries when a celebration was taking place. As I watched and wondered what was going on and why, I couldn’t help but wonder if visitors to the USA do the same.
I was in India and walking back to our hotel and was caught up in a parade that I figured out was a wedding procession. There was a handsome young man on a white horse. There were at least 100 people dressed in traditional costumes and what I would call, church clothes, walking in a mob. There was music, laughter and obvious celebration happening. The kooky thing for me was, men were carrying these giant candelabras. They were electric, and long cords all ran to a generator that was loaded in the back of a pick-up truck and making so much racket, it was louder than the party! I was happy to be a bystander and maybe try to sneak a photo or twenty since I didn’t know if it was appropriate. But there was no standing by, as young ladies ran to the sidewalk and pulled me and another light-skinned American into the fray. We had no idea what was happening, but it was a happy something, so we waved our arms and clapped our hands and pranced down the street with the monster candle sticks lighting the way.
We learned the next day from our local guide, that it is good luck to have strangers celebrate your wedding. I’m not sure if that’s really what happened, but it made us feel better. It was great!
I was in Cambodia when the Buddhist monks took their morning walk through the streets. Locals lined the sidewalks with food and money that they dropped into the baskets that the monks carried. It was all very orderly and formal. We had been given bowls of cooked rice to distribute. Honestly, I couldn’t think that getting a blob of cold, gummy rice was much of a gift, especially when it landed in the same holder as loose change, paper bills and other bits and bobs. The monks didn’t make eye contact with us, just stepped down the road. I had no idea how the food or the money was divided or how the process worked, but it was a good something, and I was happy to be a part of that daily celebration.
I’m hoping that visitors to the United States “ohhed” and “ahhed” over our crazy fireworks displays. I hope they saw an American flag waving from every spot they looked. I hope they were welcomed and invited in to eat, and laugh and be a part of something that maybe they didn’t understand totally, but they knew it was a happy something. It was Americans being proud to be Americans.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.