A Global Fourth

Fireworks

Fireworks

It was an interesting Fourth of July. There are only three holidays that are part of my DNA—Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July. Having branched quite far away from my roots, these are the three days that pull me back toward that Midwestern soil and pyche. The Christmas decorations and food and my turkey collection assure that I am beamed in a time machine right back to Southeast Missouri of the 50’s and 60’s. But this Fourth of July hinted that maybe I am finally undergoing a personal transformation. Though I did sort through a plastic bin full of summer clothes in mothballs in the basement to find my American flag in the shape of a heart t-shirt, the shirt did not seem to fit this year. Maybe it was the smell of camphor I emitted all day. There were no red-white-and blue flower arrangements, tiny American flags in vases or the de rigueur barbecue with sizzling hamburgers or hotdogs followed by my traditional white sheet cake decorated with white butter cream frosting with strawberries and blueberries forming the Stars and Stripes and little sparkler candles spitting sparks. The town fireworks on the beach were cancelled again this year to protect the nesting of the piping plovers with only loud booms coming from the direction of Montauk and Sag Harbor. In deference to our visiting Indian Hindu friends I served a vegan meal of carmelized onion and eggplant bow tie pasta, cracked wheat salad and cucumbers and onions in yogurt and wine vinegar followed by lemon bars and coffee ice cream. No one mentioned the holiday amid lively discussions of politics and economics and family dynamics. I noticed that I did occasionally remember past Fourth of Julys—catfish fries in Central Missouri with my maternal grandparents, sparklers and Roman candles and lobsters flown in from Maine with my siblings in the backyard in Missouri and barbecues on the beach with my sons when they were young. I did look for the reprint of the Declaration of Independence in the NY Times. But I did not feel nostalgia or longing for the past. I looked around the table at my Indian guests, my son’s Russian immigrant girlfriend, my globetrotting son, and my husband who finds the world and all its contents endlessly fascinating. In that moment I realized that I had achieved my aspiration of becoming a “citizen of the world.”

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