Thursday, June 30, 2011

Carnival - Fourth of July Deprivation

In The Powder Room is running a Fourth of July carnival, which I'm taking part in - with a twist, of course.

Fourth of July Deprivation

The Fourth of JuIy, otherwise known as Independence Day, is HUGE in the USA, and I know I have seriously short-changed my (American) kids on this one. For a start we’re usually not even in the country, and since it’s not a big deal in England unless you move in American expat circles, (which we don’t), it usually goes unnoticed. A really good mother would take stars and stripes napkins and paper plates to England, and mark the occasion with a little American-style BBQ for friends and family, but when packing for three kids and myself, it’s usually not even on my radar till we’re half way across the Atlantic. Besides, no one in the UK gets the day off on the fourth, so there’s not usually a lot of enthusiasm for a mid-week party.

Even if we were in the States, the kids would still probably consider themselves short-changed. We have never lived in the burbs, where neighbors get together for street parades and pot luck BBQ’s, pop down to the community pool and generally fraternize. Lots of people mark the Fourth with a fireworks display in the evening, which this Brit always finds a little strange. I mean, I grew up with Bonfire Night, (November 5th) and since it gets dark around 4pm during British winters, I’m not used to having to keep small children up till after 9pm to see fireworks. By the time I decided they were old enough to stay up without extreme crankiness the following day, my kids were too old to really care about fireworks.

Besides…it doesn’t help that they have a mother who jokes that July 4th is the British Thanksgiving day – the day we got rid of one of the peskier colonies!


  1. It's never easy! I grew up in California with a Kiwi for a mother - she got things like the 4th and Thanksgiving, but not other important things like cheerleading and proms. Now I live in the UK with my English husband and am trying to do better by my kids. I've got my Stars & Stripes plates and cups and the DH has a few sparklers left over from Bonfire Night last year. Unfortunately the kids won't get the day off (they get today, instead, with teacher strikes!). I do keep them home for Thanksgiving because that is practically a religious observance for me. One year, my kids were at a new school and the head teacher told me they do not permit holidays in term time when I told her the kids would be at home with me those two days. Needless to say, they aren't at that school anymore.

    Love the blog!

  2. Haha. Now I know what all the fuss is about. Thanks!

  3. I'm sure your cross-cultural children will forgive you. You can't have it all, and a summer in England seems a good trade-off for missing the 4th of July.

  4. I still don't think I get holidays quite 'right.' I had a Canadian mom who didn't really 'get' the 4th and US Thanksgiving, and besides that, I grew up in Asia where a lot of the big US holidays were non-events anyway.
    As far as the 4th goes, I prefer to do just about anything rather than go watch fireworks on the 4th. It never seems that the bugs, sweat, and traffic are worth the show. I know, I know, I'm a Scrooge (or whatever the 4th of July equivalent is called...)

  5. I think I've been back for one, maybe two 4ths in all the years Ive been in the UK. I still miss them! I miss them even more on the 5th of November when everyone is trying to act jolly and festive in mud and rain.

    I love the warm evening, the happy atmosphere at the State Park by the lake where everyone gets together for BBQs and watching the fireworks over the lake. It was a great summer family get together time in my childhood.

    Now I'm homesick again...

  6. I live in the burbs, so we'll be having the usual street BBQ. Last year the Geek and I were in the UK on the 4th so we missed it. It was strange to think of everyone having fun without us. In 6 years we've got used to the celebration. Mind you, back in Blighty we had a little celebration of our own. My sister ended up having her baby that day, just to make sure that we never forget my niece's birthday!

  7. It's just a long weekend for us, although we usually watch the New York City fireworks on TV. Here, everyone hits the beach in a big way - we'll probably join them. But I won't miss the Fourth when we are back in the UK - it's one of those All American holidays I don't really feel part of.

  8. Yes that's one of the compensations living in burbs, or Oakland burbs, they really rally for this kind of thing. And my experience totally, fireworks and crankiness, then none, then they don't want to go!

  9. It would be nice if it got darker sooner. Because the kids who really love the fireworks get so darn bored waiting and waiting and waiting.

  10. We do live in the burbs and there is a great big parade on right now but I don't really 'get into the swing of things' although I might go to the pool later since they are giving out free hot dogs!


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