I spent the first few days of July with my parents and sisters. We had a great time, taking the kids swimming and spending time together. One afternoon after, hanging out in a play area, Mom and Dad took me and my youngest to a local ice cream place. The shopping center was packed with people who had some time off for the Friday before 4th of July. One man took the time to say hello to us as we passed him. I immediately noticed his thick Chinese accent.
I returned his greeting. My son Nathan waved.
“Happy July four,” the man added, with the same enthusiasm that a person would use when saying Merry Christmas.
“You too.” I said.
“Why did he say that if Fourth of July isn’t until tomorrow?” Nathan asked.
“Because he’s excited. Fourth of July is a great day.” I quietly explained how new and thrilling Independence Day is for people who move to America from countries where they don’t have our freedoms.
Suddenly I remembered one of the mothers at a preschool where I used to work. She had just moved to our area from Korea. Our director tried to explain to her that the school would be closed on the 4th.
“It’s a holiday,” the director said, expecting to have to explain it.
Instead the woman smiled and nodded. “Oh yes, yes.” She carefully but proudly pronounced, “Independence Day!”
As I walked into the ice cream store, those two voices echoed in my mind.
“Happy July four.”
“Oh yes, yes. Independence Day!”
As newcomers to America, the day truly meant something to them. Their fresh enthusiasm renewed my appreciation for a holiday that probably wasn’t as big in my mind as it should have been. So yesterday I celebrated the 4th with a new perspective, thanking God for all that it represents.
Why does it take a heavily accented “Happy July four” to remind me how blessed I am? Have you had similar experiences? I would love to hear about them?