It’s Fourth of July weekend. The time of year when we load our kids into the minivan and park on the side of the road on top of a hill and wait for the small towns around us to start their fireworks. By the end of the displays, our necks hurt from straining from side to side to see all the different firework shows. We are up late, running around, celebrating Independence Day.
It’s the time of the year when the backyard neighbors see our fire pit going and come down the hill with a pitcher of margaritas and glasses. Again, our kids play inside and out while we enjoy each other’s company over a fire, drinks and finger foods. Its nice out, cool in the evening and warm and sunny during the day. There are parades through every downtown with people sporting red, white and blue outfits. There are marching bands, (once upon a time I was in a marching band.. loved it), loud bands, signs of patriotism everywhere. Every evening the noise of fireworks interrupts our sleep and the smell of burnt fuses is in the in the smoky air.
It’s the time of year when grandparents, family and friends come over and we grill dinners. We have fruit salads, vegetable salads and pasta salads followed by icey-pops and frozen custard. We are a mess of sunscreen, mosquito repellant and sweat. It is summer in Wisconsin and it is a great time of year. We relax by lakes, relive years gone by and reflect on how lucky we are to live in a free country. Of course, we give thanks for those that fought to make it so.
I still live in a free country, but this year there is only red and white. The stars and stripes have been replaced by a maple leaf. If you are saying to yourself, “Man, she seems homesick,” you are right. I love our home in Canada and feel very thankful to be close to the mountains, living in a great country with terrific people. But it is not home. Not yet, anyway.
We attended the festivities for Canada Day this week, as it is a national holiday here as well. It did not disappoint. The sun was shining, there many areas for people to hang out eat, try on cowboy hats or whatever. I was an arm’s length from Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary. Really, I was. I wish I had the camera ready. He gave a little speech that made my homesickness go away.
He talked of Canadian independence. He talked of being thankful to live in a free country. But what hit home for me was his talk of the Canadian tradition to welcome people from all over the world into this great country. To show that all are welcome here. It made me smile. So, although this started as a self-pitying post about my longing to celebrate the 4th of July with American friends in the great state of Wisconsin, I am finishing by saying that I am a lucky woman. I am a citizen of the United States and while we may not get everything right and our foreign policy may be a little off at times, (our domestic policy can be way off, too, come to think of it), I still believe in us. I believe that we can do great things and that despite the challenges the US faces, we are still one of the best games in town. I am also lucky because I live in a country that welcomes newcomers and is doing and capable of doing great things, albeit more quietly and politely than their southern neighbors.
So this week, no matter if you are celebrating Canadian independence, The United States’ independence, or are lucky enough to celebrate both, I urge you to take a moment. Breathe it all in, look around you and count blessings. My guess (and my hope) is that you will have too many to count.