* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July


To all my fellow Americans, I hope you are having a festive day today (at least, those of you not being blown away or washed out).  It's a great opportunity to remember our heritage, no matter where we may be finding ourselves physically on this planet.  It's also a great day to barbecue with friends, provided you don't have to work.  Best of all, there might also be local fireworks to enjoy!

When we first moved to France, the first American holiday we missed was Thanksgiving, one of the most American of holidays.  We found a way to celebrate it, not yet having learned all the tricks that came later, but that's a story for another season.  We came near to the end of our first year by missing the Fourth, the last major holiday of that year.  Not wanting to offend our host country (little did I know then how far off base I was with that concept!) by being blatant foreigners, we had a quiet little barbecue in our back yard with two American friends we'd made and a Brit (first time we'd ever celebrated with the enemy). 

Annoyed   I apparently did not take pictures of this debut, and I seem to be missing most of the print photos of the period I was expecting to share.

By the second year, we were fitting into the French lifestyle fairly well, and we discovered how much the French enjoyed our American-ness.  Our second daughter had graduated from high school the day before (in July!), the Fourth came on a Saturday, so we had a big combined fête nationale américaine /graduation party with everybody we knew.  The French loved it, and we've been doing one ever since.

A cheesy American flag
Congratulations, Graduate!

Sad smile  Seemingly no photos of real people, the graduation aspect must have taken precedence.  No American décor ambiance yet, that had to come later.

It seems like Paris loves to rain on the Saturday closest to the Fourth, and it got to be a real joke once our regular guests realized I wasn't just complaining every year for nothing.  In an early year, we stuck our little barbecue grill in the fireplace, it was raining too hard to even use the porch.  One year we had a wedding on that Saturday, so we changed it to Sunday.  Saturday was beautiful, we had the worst rain ever on Sunday (storms that actually caused a lot of havoc on the roadways). 

Tenting the backyard
Another year our neighbor strung up a whole plastic awning over our back yard, including around the tree that was in the way, hoping to protect us.  While there apparently were moments of sun, I remember how the rain snuck through the overlaps.  As print pictures are not time stamped, there's no proof of when these were taken.  But as it was an evening party, it was nighttime.  Paris is really strange how it stays light until almost 11:00 p.m. in the early summer!

Cocooning around a cherry tree

Happy Birthday!

We've often combined the Fourth party with other events.  Starting with the graduation party the first year for our daughter, we also celebrated our son finishing high school a number of years later, too.

When our landlord did a major remodel of our house, and we upgraded all the house décor, we used the Fourth as an Open House.  It was hard enough in general trying to teach the French to dress down, they totally dressed back up for that one.  

We also celebrated some important birthdays for our son, whose birthday fell on the party date sometimes. The French make a big deal of the 20th birthday, so that year made the party a bit more special.

A Parisian goodbye
Our saddest Fourth was when we turned it into a farewell party the year we moved down south.  Perhaps our scariest one was the year Doc Leo got thrown into the hospital the week before.  We had no clue what his malady was or how serious it was, and I carried on with the barbecue anyway without him with a little help from our friends.  (He survived and has participated in a number of them since then.)

Toasting a big hello to the missing Doc

It's probably been one of our most memorable holidays to celebrate here, and we have combination plans this year again, too.


When it's sunny
Occasionally we got summer visitors from the States just in time for the party, and they would bring over some real hot dogs and buns or something else that doesn't exist here the same way.  Sometimes we've met American visitors we invited up to share with us, as well as other international visitors we happened to run across.

And while we've been spared from rain every single year we've been down here, we are risking getting rained out this year for the first time.  It's good our party isn't today, as the rain has already started.  The June wetness apparently isn't finished yet.

I came across a fun French newspaper headline.  You don't have to understand French to enjoy it, the pictures (and the English wording in the text that pops out) say it all; but if you do understand some, you might enjoy the write-up, too.  France loves to boast how they were the first to recognize our existence after independence; they still call themselves our first friends.  It's not a bad place to be celebrating our national holiday!


1 comment:

  1. Oh how I wish we could have some of that rain! We have never been so dry and it's preparing to get hideously hot! Ugh! We of the no A/C suffer! Our 4th was very nice, went to the Sierra Madre parade, came home, dunked our sweaty selves in the pool, had a short rest and went down to Patti and Dave's for bbq (burgers, hot dogs and chicken) I brought potato salad and an amazingly great lemon cake. Had a lovely time and watched some of the soccer matches - any excuse to stay inside with the amazing Simon A/C! Watched fireworks from our window in the communities below us and had a splendid day. :)


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