Saturday, July 4, 2009

Love of Two Countries?

Celebrating America's independence in another country is an interesting experience. The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. I have wonderful memories from many summers past. The heat. The anticipation. The food. The colors. The friends and family. The music. The list goes on and on.
Most of my Independence Day memories are from Saginaw, where I grew up, but I've also spent the Fourth in quite a few different places: Tawas, the Blackhills of South Dakota, Ireland, and of course, Ghana. Each place was different and special, but there is nothing quite like spending the day in the familiar places of your childhood.
It is hard for me to figure out the balance between love for my country and love for my host country. I do love Ghana; this is my home. But I love America; it is the land of my birth, my culture, my family, my memories, my values.
Last night we had a few people over for a small party. We had both Ghanaians and Americans. It was fun introducing our Ghanaian friends to American cookout foods: hamburgers (they wondered why they weren't made of ham), French fries (which they call chips), Boston baked beans (not British style beans in tomato sauce), deviled eggs (they wondered what they had to do with the Devil), and s'mores (which declared much too sweet), and roasted marshmallows (which were all promptly burnt to cinders). They wondered why we were all wearing red, and why I painted my toe nails with American flags. They wondered why we wanted to light off fireworks. They had so many questions, and I didn't really have a lot of answers. The answer to why we do those things is.... because! It's what we do!
That's the funny thing about culture; it's just what you do -- no explanation needed!
Do I not love Ghana because of doing those things? Nope! Do I love America less by living in another country? Nope! In the end, I believe I'm the most blessed. I get to love America, and I get to learn to love another country, too!
I guess my girls had the best idea of how to combine the two. Last night they put on their red, white, and blue clothes, and fun costume jewelry, and then they asked if they could wear their Ghana flag hairbows, too!
I wish you all a wonderful Independence Day!

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