06 July 2011


I remember my first Christmas alone. I was 26 and living in New Jersey. I worked in a 24/7 industry and volunteered to work Christmas since the rest of my colleagues had family close by. After a hellacious day at work, I got home to find that my oven had suddenly stopped working, meaning my special Christmas dinner for one could not be prepared in the oven like I had planned. I don’t remember what else went wrong, but I remember feeling utterly alone, crying and then laughing at my sad situation. A firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I am sure that Christmas 2008 was preparing me for my time away from the family and the traditions that I relied upon my entire life.

I love holidays and the Fourth of July is no exception. When I was a kid, I used to hate fireworks, especially the really loud ones that flashed like a camera and made heart-stopping BOOMs. I am not sure what made me change my mind, but I somehow grew to love them and then made a goal to travel all over the country to see fireworks shows whenever possible. I suppose it was because I have a lot of memories at great fireworks shows.

Paul and I saw fireworks in Canton, Ohio, on our first date. We were driving back from dinner at Carrabba’s on an evening that just happened to be the night of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame celebration. Paul stopped the car in a parking lot and we sat and watched the show through his sun roof.

We took a short drive to Pittsburgh after we had been dating for a few years and stood on a bridge over one of the three rivers on New Year’s Eve. We flew to Boston with our friend, Katie, to watch shows over the Charles River. A few years ago, Paul proposed during a New Year's Eve midnight fireworks show. And how can one even mention fireworks without citing the greatness that is Red, White and Boom? Best. Show. Ever. Every year. Hands down.

We have seen fireworks shows over Manhattan, on the coast in Red Bank and we once sat atop a hill on a back road to watch fireworks in Somerset, New Jersey. We were so close that I was nervous the sparks would hit us.

Last summer we watched five simultaneous fireworks shows over all of D.C. and the surrounding areas. This year, we saw five fireworks at a place called the Terror Club. And on Monday, it was just Monday. Banks were open, people went to work, there were people in malls and no one was celebrating anything. It was just like Easter, except we weren’t in church.

We will be celebrating Independence Day, but not until August when Singapore celebrates the country’s separation from Malaysia. We will be celebrating the New Year – twice – with the traditional and the Chinese holidays. I hear that Orchard Road goes all out for Christmas, but we may have to wait to see that as we plan to be in the U.S. at that time. This was the second of many holidays that we are not celebrating in the U.S. and the days just don’t seem the same without others celebrating around us. Luckily, living in a new culture brings new holidays and celebrations like we have never seen.

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