Sunday, June 28, 2015

Preparing for the day

Today I went with our niece and her boyfriend to Martha’s Backyard (“The American Store”) to get some authentic American goodies to help celebrate Independence Day this coming Saturday. Yes, I still do that.

When I shared the photo above on Facebook, I added, “You can take the boy out of the USA, but you can't take the USA out of the boy!” and there’s truth in that. No matter where I live, I am the sum of all I’ve experienced in my life, and all my formative years—including early adulthood—were spent in the USA. No matter what, I’ll always be American. Always.

To properly celebrate my birth country’s national day, I needed to get some supplies, things I can’t get at the local supermarket (like, most obviously, all the Coca-Cola products grocery stores stock, for example). In particular, I wanted some decorations. It was a mixed result.

I already have a US flag that I brought with me (of course I did!), but what I really wanted was some bunting. Unfortunately, they were sold out, so I got some other decorations (which I’m not sharing here at the moment, since I may make a YouTube video about the day or, at the very least, I’ll take some photos). I also got a few other bits and pieces we’ll need.

I probably “ought” to be at least somewhat embarrassed that it took our Kiwi niece to remind me that where I’m from, we always talked about a “cook out” where Kiwis would talk about a BBQ. I’m so used to the NZ way of speaking (so “Kiwified”, if you will) that “cook out” sounds bizarre to me now.

But not everything sounds strange, even as I struggle to, first, remember what was part of my own Fourth of July celebrations, and, second, work out what will translate to a winter setting. That’s not as easy as it may seem.

For example, it's cold, so ice cream is dodgy. Watermelon is almost certainly unavailable (I haven’t looked). And some guests want pumpkin pie (Hey! It IS winter here…). Still, burgers and hot dogs are relatively easy to do, so there’s that. But meshing two cultures is never easy at the best of times.

All of this is superficial, really, but it gets at a larger point: I think it’s important for expats to remain connected to the land of their birth, even decades later, and Fourth of July and Thanksgiving are the two most obvious for me. The fact that the Fourth is on a Saturday this year makes it convenient to celebrate—and remember, particularly at a time when the US Supreme Court has delivered so much to celebrate.

“You can take the boy out of the USA, but you can't take the USA out of the boy!” Exactly so.


rogerogreen said...

A BBQ is a is a cooking method, and also the specific apparatus, here.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yes, which is why we called it a "cook out" back in the day. Here, the lines are not blurred as much as obliterated.