Monday, July 8, 2013

The 4th of July in a foreign country

Turns out the 4th of July in Germany is kind of a downer. 

I don't think I wrote about this last year, and that's understandable because last year at this time the novelty of living in Germany hadn't yet worn off and we were still settling and adjusting and exploring and easily excited.

This year, I found myself feeling a profound sadness about being outside of the USA for one of my favorite holidays. And that sadness hasn't really worn off yet, four days later. Writing about it will certainly help me sort this feeling out, so here I am.

Here's what I love about the 4th of July celebration:

1. everyone gets into it. there is so much pride and patriotism. there's a sense of community and camaraderie. so much red, white and blue. 

2. it's a summer holiday. And in the South, it's usually ridiculously hot and sunny and perfectly SUMMER (although I hear that wasn't the case this year...sorry, Atlanta)

3. cookouts. days on the lake. fireworks. friends. family. I mean, what could be better?

In Germany, you just don't have that same "feeling". Yes, the military community obviously celebrates the holiday. But for me, it just wasn't the same.

We went to a cookout slash birthday party with some friends, and that was so fun. But I wasn't feeling well, so I couldn't really get into it and ended up leaving early, watching movies on the couch for most of the day (which was annoying because it was beautifully warm and sunny and we know how much those days should be cherished). We opted out of the fireworks display on post that evening...I still wasn't feeling well. And of course, none of the Germans celebrate this US holiday so there weren't fireworks anywhere else. It felt like the day just slipped by, unnoticed and unappreciated. And that was sad for me. 

I really missed the excitement of having a day off of work in the middle of the week. I missed seeing everyone dressed up in their festive red, white and blue outfits. I missed all the cookouts. I missed celebrating with friends. I missed being with my family. I missed being on the lake and watching the golf cart parade and seeing fireworks over the water. I missed sparklers and being nervous about all of the adventurous souls who wanted to have their own fireworks show in the comfort of their front yard. 

I just really missed being in my country. 

I still really love and appreciate the experience we're having in Germany. I'm still very thankful for this time we have overseas. But I have been missing "home" a lot recently. I miss the little things. I miss good Mexican food (and cheese dip). I miss Chili's. (I know, right? Who knew). I miss being able to read signs and menus and labels. I miss Target. I miss meeting up with friends for dinner. I miss our families. While Germany has become our home for a time and we feel we've settled in well, I still find myself really missing and craving those old familiar comforts.

I'm trying not to be too hard on myself for feeling like this, because I tend to think I need to suck it up and get over it. I often feel wrong or guilty for feeling this way when I know how amazing it is that we have this opportunity and I know that when we do get back to the states, I'll miss Germany fiercely. And I'm sure this feeling will be a distant memory in a few weeks when we are sitting in the sun on the coast of Spain...but for now... I miss "home." I miss my friends and my family. I miss the comfort of familiar things. And I'm letting myself feel this way, because right now I can label it as patriotic rather than whiny.

I miss you, USA. 


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