My family passed a fairly pleasant Fourth of July. My husband had to work the morning shift, so it was just me and my boy much of the day. I got up relatively early while the boy slept in - which is his usual schedule during the summer. Things don't always change just because it's a holiday.
It was somewhat lazy. I did laundry. I loaded and ran the dishwasher. I visited FaceBook and caught up with friends. Later, after lunch, ZBoy's friend William came over and they swam for a while, then came in and played video games.
Mom called and asked if we'd be interested in coming out to the farm for dinner. We had no plans and an evening at the farm sounded lovely. As soon as Darling Man got home from work, we'd head out there.
DM brought along his bike to ride home after dinner. It's a long ride (about 25-30 miles), but he's done it before and after three days of early shift work, his body was screaming at him to stretch it out and work it hard. My dad had another idea of how to work my husband's body and put him to work digging in monkey grass in the flower bed out back.
Dinner was awesome. Dad made steaks (a gift from my brother Matt) and the way he did it was so good! First he put buttrub all over them and let them sit a few minutes, then seared the outsides in a cast iron skillet. After that, he put them on a rack and BAKED them until the internal temperature was 130-140. Oh. My. God... I don't normally eat steak. Something about the density really upsets my stomach but this was absolutely amazing! I ate this steak! It was heavenly... Mom made scalloped potatoes and garlic bread and a salad from America's Test Kitchen. It looked and smelled so good... Everyone loved it!! I wish I could have eaten it, but there were lots of tomatoes in it and I'm sensitive to raw tomatoes. They make my mouth blister and it takes about a week to recover from that. But my son just LOVED it, which is odd for him. Dessert was vanilla ice cream with hot fudge on top.
So this sounds like a fairly normal Fourth of July gathering... nothing special or out of the ordinary, right? But it is special and for immigrants and their families, this celebration is out of the ordinary.
My dad is an immigrant. He came over here from England at the age of 16. There was (to my knowledge) no big impetus to get here - no war to escape from or some kind of oppression. But life required a change for him, his mother and his brother. They came here to renew their own lives. My uncle went back to England. My grandmother stayed here until I was around 8 years old. She'd remarried and settled here with her new husband. Eventually they moved to Canada and then back to England. But my dad stayed here. He found a lovely woman to marry, a job that paid enough to support him and his little family. And he became an American in 1964. He chose to make his life here.
Compared to so many other countries, this is an amazing place. We have the freedom to think what we want to, say what we want to, worship the way we want to. We have a say in our own taxation. The government belongs to us and we can change it whenever we want to. That's not to say that things are perfect here. People sometimes head down the wrong path and government follows along - but unlike countries with kings or dictators, we have the ability to turn it around without persecution or the threat of lethal upheavals. We, the people, decide what is important. What is worth paying for, what is worth working for, and what is worth dying for. Not every place has that freedom.
So while our celebrations were low key and quiet, we did celebrate being here together as a family in this land my father chose as his home.