Being a Brit living in the US, I’ve never really felt excited about July 4th as a holiday. It’s a bit hard to celebrate American Independence from the controlling “bad guy” culture, the United Kingdom, when you’re from that culture. Luckily, our two nations are best of friends now, but still, it’s a wee bit awkward. Furthermore, July 4th is traditionally a day of intense patriotism, and I’ve never been an intensely patriotic person, having been born in India to a Persian mother and Scottish father, brought up in Scotland, Canada and England, then having studied Japanese and lived in Japan, and now here I am in the US. During the World Cup or Olympics, there’s no one team I can whole-heartedly support. Fortunately, I guess, July 4th falls during summer vacation here and I have often been traveling during the holiday so have avoided having any awkwardness. In fact, a couple of years ago, my husband David, son Theo and I were visiting my father in Cambridge on July 4th and when we were shopping that day, Theo insisted on buying a Union Jack flag and waving it around as we walked through Cambridge. I had to giggle. He had no idea why.
However, I am married to an American, I have a son who’s American, and I did actually become a US citizen several years back, so I do try to get into the festive spirit a bit. We have gone to see some spectacular fireworks displays over the years and we’ve had some barbecues. Tonight we enjoyed the fireworks going off in the distance from our backyard, and we went out to see the movie Jackie & Ryan (as promised in yesterday’s blog post); it was a sweet, elegantly crafted film, which felt beautifully American, so seemed to fit the day well. But I did have trouble deciding what to give away on July 4th. I didn’t have any extra flags or sparkly things, and we didn’t really see anyone we know today, so by 10pm, I still hadn’t made my Giveaway. But then a small firework went off inside my head. David had accidentally bought a second copy of the DVD Braveheart, in which Mel Gibson plays William Wallace, the 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the first Scottish War of Independence against the English. At the climax of the story, Mel (or rather, William Wallace) famously roars as he charges into battle: “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
I left the DVD leaning against the DVD rental machine outside our local 7-11 convenience store, with a note saying “Free DVD. Happy July 4th!” Hopefully, someone will not only enjoy getting a free movie, but they’ll also get a little kick out of my odd sense of historical humor.