As American citizens we didn't know what was involved with clearing customs, until we returned from Mexico. Before computerization, US agents looked through a huge, worn book. If the passport name was found, the person could not enter the US.
As I stood in line in Texas, I raced through my past. I had nothing to report. Still, I broke out in a sweat. We couldn't leave to eat or use the restroom. What will we do if we can't get in? What will happen to our kids? Where will we go? I understood kissing home ground.
While the agent searched, I held my breath. Satisfied we weren't felons, he stamped our passports, and said, "Next." Thank God.
Minnie and I were in Germany one July 4th without a small American flag, and didn't see one anywhere. We felt "foreign," out of place, but we would make the best of the day.
Our childhood holidays meant picnics and celebrations with extended family and community unless the wheat needed to be harvested. Ripe, it was too fragile to leave in the field. We wrote our names with sparklers and lit black caps on the sidewalk to make messy worms. Until July 4th summer was up and coming. After, it was downhill to school and winter.
White asparagus with hollandaise replaced hotdogs. For that I could give up hotdogs. A quiet walk in the country replaced a noisey parade, but without people to watch. Wild red poppies looked like a sea of onlookers waving flags at passing floats. That put some life into it. We waved back.
A quiet game of Rummy replaced yelling at a ballgame. We missed Mom's after-the-game root beer floats and malts with the homemade rich, creamy ice cream we'd worked all afternoon taking turns cranking. I love the taste of malt powder. The texture reminds me of sawdust.
From a hilltop after dark we saw a few fireworks from an American base. We couldn't smell them, and no children or dogs complained about the noise.
Our low-key, lonely celebration put into perspective that the rest of the world does not revolve around the US. It did deepen our pride in America, and strengthen our love and loyalty to home and country.
copyright 2005 Red Convertible Travel Series