Wednesday, July 4, 2012

red, white and blue

When I was a kid there was nothing much special about the fourth of July - until I met by childhood best friend. She lived a few doors down from me, her name meant princess, and her birthday was on the 4th July, exactly one month after mine. It became a pretty special day thereafter.

When I got a bit older I remember a really long film coming out called 'Born on the Fourth of July' (1989). How cool that my bezzie mate had a movie about her birthday!

What a let down! After seeing Maverick in Top Gun, a washed up bitter Tom Cruise was not what I was expecting. I never made it through to the end - movie buffs, I apologize for my 9 year-old self - and I don't think the movie actually had anything to do with the fourth of July.... did it?

My last bit of British education on the fourth of July was the mega Blockbuster hit 'Independence Day' (1996) in which Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum pilot an antique UFO into space to open a can of whoop-ass on alien invaders who are hovering ominously over the USA.

I remember the spontaneous standing ovation and applause which erupted in the cinema after the presidents speech.   

That movie came out the same year I did my GCSEs. I was 16 and my favorite subject was History. I nailed my exam - so you'd think I'd be a pretty accomplished historian. Not so the case.

I knew all about The Tudors and our more recent world wars - meaning WWI and WW2 - but it turns out that, being a student of the British Empire, my country's history is far too extensive (like the number of notches on Casanova's bedpost) to ever really get on top of!  

We Brits have had our grubby fingers in almost every other country's pie on the planet!

I remember feeling acutely embarrassed about my ignorance (and subsequently pretty guilty) about England's role in The Crusades after my taxi driver in Cairo enlightened me to the error of my country's ways! 

It was the first I'd really heard of us Brits forcing Christianity down the Egyptians' throats all those centuries ago. After all the other stuff Britain had done it didn't seem like a big deal to me. Ancient history right? Apparently still a pretty big deal to my taxi driver. 

I remember thinking I needed to be more of a diplomat whilst globetrotting across old enemy lines. At the very least I needed to have an idea of what offences I may be hauled over the coals for on behalf of Britannia!!

The USA though, had always been a friend of ours for as long as I can remember. The only bitching about our Yankee brothers, that I can recall, was regarding their reticence to join in the Second World War until after Pearl Harbor. 

Well, better late then never.

When I first met my hubs, our respective leaders Tony Blair and George W. Bush were so much in cahoots with each other over their 'War on Terrorism' I couldn't conceive of a time of discontent between our two democracies.  

Of course I knew that wasn't the case. I didn't know the details though. 

I'd heard of the Boston Tea Party - and I vaguely realized that the Brits (once again) had been cleared off someone else's land. Tragically we didn't cover this titbit of history in school either. I hate to come across as such a numpty, but there you have it.   

After living in Texas for nearly four years now, I'm a little more clued in to the history of Independence Day - and my country's part in it, although admittedly (like Thanksgiving - and the Superbowl) I have to get an annual refresher from the hubs!  

Obviously us Brits don't come off in the best light. If they'd bothered to add this to our school syllabus back home then perhaps I'd know a different side to the story. As it stands, it just seems like we were a little bit greedy back in the day, and the American's were right to kick us out. 

Whatever. The kids and I didn't sport any red, white and blue today - but not for any other reason than we didn't get our act together in time. Red, white and blue conveniently happens to be my country's colors also, so I could easily feign patriotism to the US without selling out my homeland. 

The hubs pulled out his patriotic waistcoat (that Momma scored from the local thrift store) last minute to wear to the family picnic. 

No-one really talks about the history of Independence Day anymore - at least they haven't in my company. Even with my tell-tale accent, victory over the Brits wasn't lorded over me once today. It's all a bit like Christmas really. OK - not quite the same thing.

Independence Day is a national holiday. It's a good excuse for a day off work (unless you're a Mommy), and  for family and friends to get together for a knees-up. As far as American holidays go this seems to be the biggie. 

Here in our small town Texas, the fourth of July celebrations throw down with a parade, fireworks and the rodeo! We only made it to the rodeo our first year in Texas, before kids - although I did have a babe in my belly. But this is the first year we didn't make it to the parade.

Honestly I wasn't too upset that my two year old missed out on all the candy showers. We're still hiding their Easter candies along with last year's Halloween stash!

Instead we headed out to a private and picturesque slice of Texas Country heaven - where the bulk of the hubs' family - and his Grandpa's girl's family all met up for a bumper picnic and swim in the sun.

It's been an absolutely fabulous family day outdoors - even for this over-heated Yorkshire acclimated preggo Momma!  The river was cool and blissful on my bloated bod - definitely the right place to roost in the Texas heat. 

Our Grand hosts did a grand job at grilling up a banquet that - try as we might - was impossible to deplete. 

Under the merciful shade of grand old oak canopies, both families gorged on grub, scavenging pups were scolded, the guys played horseshoes while the younger troops played washers, and my boys did a fine job at interrupting both games.  

The afternoon flew by in a whirlwind of family fun and food. After a post picnic swim - second of the day - my water babies finally got their fill of the river. The littlest was all prunified when we pulled them out!

At 7pm it was time to '
lock and load' our troops in the minivan and it took less than fifteen seconds until this:

They've been crashed out ever since! Now it's 10pm (almost lights-out for Mommy) and I can hear the fourth of July fireworks exploding all around me as I blog.

Good night everybody and happy Independence Day America. I'm glad you started a revolt against us Brits - if only for special days like these.   


  1. FYI those were pecan trees . . . for a little Texas history lesson (ask any 7th grader) . . . the pecan, our state tree, is native to 150 counties in texas. it's habitat is river bottom, just like our picnic site. that grand canopy that shaded us could easily be 100+ years old! . . . and yes, it's true, every Texas kid gets Texas history in the 7th grade!!

    we did have a grand picnic with the combined tribes and love having you embrace all our celebrations. it's refreshing to hear it from your point of view. keep it up!

  2. Tell me about it Josie, don't I know how the Brit's have upset a whole lot of people in this world but I'm still proud to be one. They were like children going to someone's house and then claiming the other person's toys!
    I'm certainly not a history buff as we really didn't learn this stuff when I was young. It's only just starting to get popular now, so I guess I better do some homework.

    Oh, wish I was at the bumper picnic. Americans know how to lay on a good spread ie: picnic, feast, food fest. Those lovely kids must have slept for 2 days solid after all the fun they had. Nice Post.