In a few days our country will celebrate its birthday. Since my circle of American friends is pretty small, here is how I have decided to celebrate the 4th this year.
Of course it will start with cooking outside on our tiny little grill. It will include red/white/blue decorations. And that would end it there since we can’t do fireworks – we really can’t sing God Bless America (because we can’t sing) – and getting together with family is a dream.
So this year, we are going to tell stories of 4th of July celebrations-past. My husband’s audience is Lilly and me. My audience is Lilly and my husband. It is narrow, but sufficient. In fact, I can’t think of anyone I would rather share my stories with than with my family members. I want this to accomplish two things. Lilly will see what it is like to be patriotic (like reading a book), and it is important to connect her to her home culture and family.
About five years ago, my husband, Clay, Elaine, Lilly, and I revisited our old home place in the sub-Saharan mud village that was our home for many years. July in the Sahara is punishing.
I made noodles that day because that is what my mom always did for special days. I also made a very bad angel food cake…using my precious egg whites, and only succeeding in producing a very dense, gummy, short angel food cake.
I had patriotic music on the CD player. Lilly would not enter into the festivities. She was too hot and miserable. She was on the mattress on the floor in the bedroom with her tiny battery-powered fan, trying to stay cool. I heard a shriek, ran to the room, and she was in tears on the mattress. A huge lizard had just invaded her space temporarily.
It was a sad 4th, but I sure do remember it!
Picnics, barbecues in sweltering heat, hot dogs, hamburgers, bands, parades… Yes, this year it will be stories.
Have you tried telling stories to your children? Stories about your childhood, sibling stories, grandma and grandpa stories. The list is endless.
I wish I had asked my mom more about her past. I wish she had told me more stories of what it was like to grow up during the war. My dad grew up in a mining town. What was it like?
It is too late now, but if I can pass on my stories to my children, what a wonderful thing to show them that they belong to part of a story that just keeps going on.
I do remember my mom’s story about Grandma taking a cake out of the wood stove, and it fell. She threw it on the floor and stomped on it. That was Grandma.
Start with the stories and see if you don’t have an appreciative audience!
“I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.” Ps 89:1