culture

how an expat celebrates independence day: nostalgia + gratitude

4 Jul 2015

fireworks

it’s the 4th of july! the day that americans have bbqs + shoot off fireworks like nobody’s business.

it’s such a fun day, a highlight of the summer, for sure. people have taken off from work – usually to take vacations during the week (mind you, europeans, 1 of the only 2-ish weeks of vacation that most americans get in a year – if they are lucky!). so, it’s a day of celebration, family, love, tradition, and pure carefree bliss.

american flag

i have spent most of my 4th of julys at the beach with my extended family. i have vivid, absolutely wonderful memories of this holiday with my family. these summers, these holidays formed me + grounded me.

but, you know, my family is not the only one who celebrates this way. the beaches around the entire american coastline are packed to the gills today. blankets, coolers, boogie boards, fishing poles, surfboards, music, the smell of coconut oil and sunscreen, books, beach towels… these are the things of summer to me. the things of the 4th of july.

beach 121 beach family sitting beach 91

the evening air will smell of grills cooking hot dogs + burgers. red solo cups will be filled with sodas and beer. potato salad, baked beans, chips, and most definitely a desert with strawberriess + blueberries will be eaten.

and then, as the sun sets, people will gather, craning their necks upward to watch the fireworks light up the sky, booming, flashing, making people giggle with sheer delight. it is a night when everyone is transported back to their childhood again.

and it’s the night when my crazy family has gathered for our own little ritual + celebration: setting off our own fireworks on the beach. last year they were so amazing we drew a crowd!

fireworks

atlantic beach fireworks.

there is just nothing like it.

oh…. i’m feeling extremely nostalgic right now…

fireworks-beach

of course, this summer, this independence day, i am in sweden. but, it’s not regular day here either. at least not for me + my swedish family.

it’s true, my heart is breaking  because my love + i are not celebrating with the family in north carolina. ok. my heart is crushed, as it always is whenever a holiday rolls around and i can’t be in two places at once.

but, i can’t complain too much. here in sweden, i have just arrived today in the swedish archipelago for a week long vacation of rest, fun, sun (hopefully!). this is a tradition that my love’s family has had for about 40 years now, so i have just traded one family tradition for another.

summer archipelago

so, friends, i will be off the grid + back to nature for the next week. soaking up the magical swedish forests and sea. all i’m gonna do is eat, sleep, rest, laugh, sunbathe, write, and just freaking be.

and yes, i absolutely realize how blessed i am to have such beautiful traditions, places, and people in two different countries that i call home.

today, i wish all of my fellow americans all around the world a happy 4th of july, i send hugs + kisses to my family in the states, and i share with each of you, dear readers, a big ball of energy of love + light.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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