Monday, July 14, 2014

Battle Proms: My July 4 Cure

Holidays are a challenging time when you're an expat. Living abroad means not spending those key days each year with your family and friends by your side, as you're likely accustomed to doing. And then there are those holidays unique to your specific country which slip by without any fanfare. For us, Thanksgiving and 4th of July will always be emotionally difficult, if for no other reason than it's just a normal day of the week all around us.

Last year, July 4 was particularly depressing. My facebook feed was full of updates and photos of celebrations, cookouts, pool parties and fireworks. Having only been here a month, we basically knew no one, and I sat around most of the day in a funk. I vowed next year would be different. So when some friends mentioned going to the Battle Proms concert, scheduled for July 5, I thought it sounded like the perfect solution to beat my homesickness.

What's Battle Proms, you ask? I wrote a description for Anglotopia here, but essentially it's an outdoor classical music concert with a military twist. They're held in several locations around the UK, and we were fortunate to have one hosted at Burghley House, the famous Elizabethan home right here in Stamford.

We started with a picnic dinner, impressive stately home as our backdrop. (It's hard to take me seriously when I say that being an expat is hard, and then I drop a photo like this, right?)

Then we watched a cavalry show.

And before we knew it, a Spitfire was buzzing overhead, doing loops, twists and turns. This part gave me chills. The more I learn about these planes, the more I fall in love with them. Such an important piece of World War II's military history.

And then the music kicked off, complete with lots of flags waving and cannons firing. Such a cool atmosphere.

And as the evening was winding down and the sun began to set, fireworks filled the sky.

In many ways, it was similar to a big July 4 bash. Just replace the stars and stripes with the Union Jack, the Star Spangled Banner with Rule, Britannia, and the burgers and hot dogs with pork pie.

But I think what I appreciated most was not that it felt like July 4 across the pond. Instead, I truly loved getting to experience a patriotic moment for the British people around me. Flags waving, voices raised, soldiers at attention, war planes doing flyovers. What I had hoped would be my July 4 replacement turned into an unexpected moment of cultural immersion.

And that's definitely the best part of being an expat.

This post is a part of Friday Postcards at Walking on Travels.

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