A Very Expat Fourth of July: It’s The Fourth?

by farrah on July 4, 2013 · 4 comments

The weather is slightly chilly and damp with grey skies thus far today. This is summer? Yep. In the Netherlands I’ve learned that the month doesn’t matter when it comes to when we’re ‘due’ for good weather. Basically I know that we’re never due for good weather- and if we do get a nice day here or there it’s kind of a fluke. People are not at the beach or pool (what beach or pool?) and it’s not a million degrees. Hence I’m lost in a time warp of the season and keep forgetting it’s the Fourth of July time. Hey. There’s no Target dollar bin to remind me, ok?

However… there really IS  this big holiday looming and I was feeling kind of ambivilant about it. So much so that I started talking with one of my US expat friends and we decided we really should do something.

Patriotic Old Worn Waving American Flag, Ragged Old Flag, Stars & Stripes, Old Glory, Red White & Blue, Blowing in the Wind

For today, the actual 4th of July, I’m dressing up the boys in their red, white and blue finery and my sister and I are taking them to Delft. It’s probably as old-world Holland-y as you can get, but hey- at least I’m wearing my own red, white and blue Detroit Tiger’s tee shirt so there’s no mistaking what I am.

As for how we’re going to actually ‘celebrate’ though, my Floridian friend Ann in Germany and her family will head over to our house tomorrow for a good old-fashioned bbq. Fortunately I live in a country where the flag colors are the same as back home, which made it pretty convenient when I was ordering my groceries and found red, white and blue napkins, plates and flatware. Decorations= done.

Be impressed!


My sister helped me think about what else we were going to need. Some sunshine would be nice… and more sand for the sandbox…and  hmmm. Let’s see. Well, since my ‘decor’ is covered, how about the most important part- food.

What’s On The Menu?

Ann and I talked about what things we could have that reminded us of home.

  • Bbq chicken breasts would be good- but I wondered about the authentic bbq sauce. Fortunately she has a stash she can bring.
  • I found regular charcoal briquettes here, and we already had a grill. (no kidding- that’s a detail to think about!)
  • Fruit salad
  • Guac & chips (thanks to my sister’s expat list compliance with the seasoning packet!)
  • Potato chips
  • German/US potato salad hybrid (thanks to Ann)
  • Dessert of strawberry shortcake or chocolate cupcakes.
  • Beer (pretty sure the only place we got you beat, United States.)

Yes. I realize you probably have much more festive/pinterest-y things planned but hey. We’re working with limited resources here!

What We’re Doing

I can’t say that besides the bbq-ing and hanging out in the back yard watching the kids frolic we’re doing much else. I asked Ann if she could get some fireworks where she is, but that doesn’t seem likely. Here, of course, fireworks are about as insane as they can get on New Year’s. I wish I would have thought ahead and bought some sparklers for the boys. Darn it. Then again.. my kids + sparkers =  nothing good I’m sure.

All in all, I’m really excited to have friends and family to share this with me. Just like everything else- we expats are masters of adapting, and adapting to a very American holiday far from American soil is no different. It’s what’s in your heart that counts- and even though we’re far away, I still love you, America. You’re frustrating, crazy, funny and just plain infuriating at times- but you are bottom line my home.

I offer up my beer in a toast to my fellow Americans abroad- may you have a happy holiday celebrating the freedom of a country that actually allows us to live out our dreams wherever we might be- cheers!

**I am happy to trade perspectives with Monique at Mo’ Travels this 4th of July- she’s my ‘expert expat’ when it comes to all things Dutch as she’s been here quite a while and a 14+ year expat herself. So interesting the different perspective on home holidays 🙂

How are you celebrating, wherever you are?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ann July 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

I’m probably doing something very similar to what you’re doing! 🙂

I can.not.wait.


2 Monique July 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm

It’s too soon for you to be ambivalent about the holiday. I’m glad you and your friend are going to celebrate. Light a sparkler for me. Happy Independence Day!


3 Chamisa July 5, 2013 at 6:33 am

I can totally relate to the “what? It’s the 4th?” sentiment. We are also celebrating with other expats on Saturday. I think it’s important to try to keep up some of the traditions and holidays from the US. Enjoy your American bbq!


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