Someone once asked me if living overseas diminishes my patriotism and that of my family. My answer was and still is that I feel more American and patriotic living overseas than I did sometimes when I lived in the land of the free. We live in Saudi Arabia because it is where my husband has a great job that he loves. We were initially attracted to this job because of the adventure of living abroad. I love that my kids are able to travel to foreign lands and are aware of so many cultures at such a young age. We love living overseas but of course, it has its share of cons.
Living overseas means that we miss out on a lot on the traditional American holidays and events. I remember being a child going to Super Bowl parties, loving the great food and voting on the commercials. My kids don’t get that experience just like they don’t get to see the shopping malls littered with Christmas décor or the latest seasonal attire. While that may sound depressing it actually forces us to celebrate each holiday/event in a more authentic and true manner.
Think about it – most holidays have meaning beyond the décor and festive events. Take last nights Super Bowl for example, yes the latest Budweiser commercial and the halftime show are fun but the purpose of the event should be honoring the hard work of the athletes. Of course I will Youtube the commercials and show but watching the game here puts the focus on the game and nothing else. While the game is televised the halftime show and commercials are not. Can you just imagine a beer commercial airing in a dry country? Take away the icing and you can still enjoy and maybe appreciate the cake even more.
Super Bowl makes me feel even more American where I live. While many nationalities in our community celebrate Christian holidays such as Christmas, only the Americans care about the Super Bowl. It’s our special bond in a land of football (hey I mean soccer) and rugby.
Now with the end of American football season we gear up for Valentine’s Day, I mean “Friendship Day.” Similar to Halloween Saudi Arabia celebrates the holiday but all that is different is the name. For “Friendship Day” we give cards and candy to our family and friends. The cards often feature red hearts and roses are marked up in the flower shops.
Whatever something is called we go all out. The house is already covered with hearts and my daughter’s party schedule is exhausting. Just like we did for Christmas, I find it so important to celebrate American holidays to the fullest while we live overseas. The fact that this country isn’t helping me just makes me do it myself. Relying on the aid of society to help my children celebrate holidays/events is not an option for us. So when we celebrate “American things” then we really focus on meaning, purpose and family. This brings us closer and takes away all that holiday clutter that often time is unnecessary.
Oh and Lady Gaga was spectacular singing the National Anthem. Truly amazing and made this American expat feel very patriotic and proud to be from a nation with such pride and tradition as the Super Bowl.