Celebrating the Fourth in the Middle East

I’m breaking from my current “Conference Season Prep” blog series to celebrate the Fourth of July and share with you all how I am celebrating America in my new Saudi Arabian home. I’m asked continually about my experiences living over here and I have to say that I have it pretty good. We love it. My family and I moved here in September and we continue to have nothing but good experiences.

I live in an International compound and I’m getting to meet people from all over the world. It’s amazing the diversity that Baby Markey will grow up experiencing. That educational opportunity was one of the things that attracted us to this experience on top of the obvious adventure.

Many of the local people here ask me questions about America and since I’m from Texas, the most frequent line of questioning involves my ranch or cattle. Of course, I have neither of these things! I often get questions about what I (or we Americans) call something or what does a certain holiday mean. I have been asked what the Fourth of July is. Many over here do associate that date with America but some I’ve spoken to only guessed on the holiday’s true meaning. I found that interesting but I’m kind of liking my self-appointed ambassador position. I’m always happy to educate others on where I’m from just as I too enjoy asking questions about other countries and their customs.

All the fellow expats I know already know what the Fourth is even if they aren’t American. We are all supportive of each other’s cultures and many are quick to say “happy _____” when a Nation has a celebration such the most recent Canada Day.

Not living in America does give me at least a bigger sense to celebrate American holidays. Not that we didn’t before but I feel the need to really break out the family traditions and celebrate each holiday right. A lot of this is probably because I’m mother to an almost three-year-old. Baby Markey is too young to really “see” the difference between living in America and living here. As parents it is up to us to show her our American pride so that she too can be proud of where she is from. And I’m proud to say that she can accurately identify both the American and Texas flags and is quick to tell people where she is from.

We will not have fireworks or parades where we live so we’re keeping things close to home as we celebrate the Fourth of July. We’re going All-American with the menu with hot dogs, potato salad, homemade onion rings and homemade ice cream. We’ll be having a few American and even non-American friends over for the event.

It’s hard to find decorations for the holiday over here so I’m incorporating my daughter’s newly discovered love for art to “Americanize” our little get together. Thanks to the Internet you can find great craft ideas for just about anything. I’m using this site for coloring pages and craft ideas but there are so many sites out there and of course Pinterest is bursting with inspiration.  

When you don’t have the option of big commercial celebrations, it’s easy to focus on home and family. I actually think sometimes the big events to celebrate holidays can draw us away from the true importance of the occasion.

From our experience, being American where we live in the Middle East is a wonderful experience. We represent our country in how we act and treat others and I like to think that we make America look really good! Baby Markey hears stories of America and the meaning behind the Fourth of July even if she doesn’t really understand it all yet.

I’ll be in the U.S.A. for some work this summer but then, as a family we’ll be back in December. Being an American outside of America really makes you appreciate things that you took fore granted before. It also makes for a bigger celebration when we reach American soil!

I’m sure Americans all over the world are witness to different international experiences every moment. What I write about is just my experience. However, no matter where you live, be it Houston, Texas or Saudi Arabia, an American is an American. Tomorrow my family will be singing to Lee Greenwood, grilling some good food and celebrating what it means to be an American with friends. We’ll just being doing it from our happy sandbox in Saudi Arabia.

Have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July!

And to jump start your celebration…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating the Fourth in the Middle East

  1. booklaurie says:

    Natalie, what fun reading about Fourth of July beyond America — I’m glad you’re getting the best part of the celebration!

    • Yes, our Fourth of July is already off to a fun and Patriotic start! Honestly, where we are everyone is friendly and happy to tell us Happy Independence Day but I know we are fortunate to have this experience.

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