Monday, July 6, 2009

the red, white, blue... and oranje

Ah, Holland... and the beautiful green pastures, the endless canals, the cheese, the flowers, the windmills, the 5 weeks of paid vacation, the ease at which to travel to surrounding countries... it really doesn't get much better. It's such a great blessing to live in a country brimming with culture and rich in history which dates back for centuries. And although I've said it before, I'll say it again... living in Europe is the best.

But at certain times of the year I do take a moment to think back to my roots from across the pond. July 4th happens to be one of those moments. On that warm summer day there's nothing better than a pool party/picnic including bar-b-que, cold watermelon (with the juice dripping down your face as you spit out the seeds), strawberry shortcake, and fireworks... lots and lots of fireworks. The real magic, though, comes in combining the pool party/picnic including bar-b-que, watermelon, strawberry short cake, and fireworks with the green pastures, endless canals, cheese, flowers, windmills, 5 weeks of paid vacation, and the ease at which to travel.

How is it done you ask? Well, it's quite easy actually. First you find fellow Americans. Then come up with the mutual decision that it really doesn't matter which day you celebrate on, since you're not in the US anyway, and settle on celebrating on the 3rd of July. Prepare and pack the food for your picnic, meet at the Amsterdam central station to take the high speed ferry over to the North Sea. Once near the North Sea, attempt to make your way over to the coast in order to have a picnic on the beach while watching the sunset. When that attempt fails, resign yourselves to the fact that maybe not all plans will follow through and come up with a spontaneous plan B - because, after all, you live in a free country and are able to do whatever you'd like. Decide at this point to eat on the dunes (which you're already walking on) and pretend you're looking across a large expanse of water as the sun descends below the horizon. Then go around in a circle telling each other what you're grateful for ... and stop half way around when you all realize that expressing gratitude is a part of an entirely different holiday. Finally, laugh about the silly mistake and enjoy the sunset.

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