I was the first to rise this morning. I made a cup of coffee, sat in an armchair, and thought to myself, “This stinks. Where are my one-hundred friends that I normally celebrate the Fourth-of-July with? This day is going to be so lame.”
I’ve known for awhile now that the 4th was coming. I’ve also known that we had no special plans. I briefly pondered that we should make some or we’ll be bummed. But I didn’t. At the moment this reality was hitting me, I had Czech class in 90 minutes and zero American friends to invite over. I knew my kids would wake up soon and have the same thoughts.
The Oshman kids grew up throwing epic backyard and beachside BBQs. Their 4ths consisted of 75-100 people, tons of kids, swimming in the ocean, rooftop displays of fireworks, massive spreads of American food, blaring Christian rap, people getting baptized (even Abby did two years ago), and ubiquitous red, white, and blue decor.
Here, in our new Czech life, we don’t even have an American flag to fly. I left all my American pottery in Okinawa. Why, oh why, did I think that was a good idea? There are no shiny stars in my cupboards or patriotic streamers crammed in the back of my junk drawer.
After the caffeine from my coffee kicked in, I hatched a plan. Zoe woke up too so I said, “Get your clothes on, we have a secret errand to run.” En route, as I explained to her what we were doing she said, “The 4th of July was always my favorite holiday at the Harbor.” Ouch. My plan for patriotic breakfast parfaits was not going to hold a candle to her grand memories.
But what could I do? My hands were tied. We don’t live in America. We don’t have an American community. There is no commissary or Target to solve my problem. So we limped home with red and white roses (no blue flowers to be found), vanilla yogurt, frozen berries, and granola. I whipped up parfaits in fancy glasses and served them to the rest of the rising family. They all politely smiled and said, “Oh yeah, it’s the 4th. Awwwwe. I loved the 4th in Okinawa. What are we going to do today, Mom?” My answer? Breakfast parfaits. So. lame.
The girls had piano lessons all afternoon and then Mark and I put together an All-American picnic for dinner. We lingered around the table and talked about what they must’ve done in Okinawa today and how our new 4ths weren’t bad, just different. God gave us some seriously resilient children. They didn’t complain or even mope. They may have been inwardly grieving and not yet expressing it, as I was, but they happily plodded through the day nonetheless.
I realize this whole blog is somewhat of a pity party for myself. Dumb, I know. But I felt compelled to share--because I miss you, Americans! Not only that, but today is kind of a comical picture of our entire lives: we are living in the exact opposite way of how we used to live. We used to throw huge parties. Like every week. We knew everyone that walked through the doors of the Harbor. We had a maniacal schedule building relationships in the name of Jesus with the military community in Okinawa. Now, we are much lesser known. We’re struggling to pronounce people’s names when we meet them, not to mention remembering them for next time. No one is asking our advice or seeking our biblical counsel. We’re working hard to just discuss the weather.
Next year, it’s on. I won’t make this mistake twice. I’ll be hoarding fireworks from the sales before New Year’s (that’s when the Czechs enjoy backyard displays, which put to shame anything you’ve ever seen filmed in a Texan’s backyard and posted on Youtube). I’ll get someone to bring us Old Navy tees. We’ll demand every American in Brno to come to our house. We’ll be more secure in our Czech friendships and we’ll make them all come over for hamburgers. We’ll blare Christian rap. Maybe someone will get baptized.
In the meantime, today and everyday, we’re reminded that we’re here because Christ lives in us and the body of Christ in this land is teensy. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ in us just might make a difference in our community. And that’s worth missing a lifetime of beachside BBQs.