I don’t need much of an excuse to celebrate-the poetry recital contest, Valentine’s Day, Grandma’s birthday, the car back from the shop, the Fourth of July, the Twentieth of July, the Twenty Eighth of July. Those last three aren’t just dates, they are the Independence Days in the countries we were born in.
We are a global working family and the question, “Where were you born?” is a lesson in geography. I was born in the United States. My husband is an MK from South Africa. Our three oldest children were born in Peru and our youngest is proud to be a Colombian.
During the month of July our centerpiece is a triple flag stand containing the banners of the United States, Colombia and Peru, surrounded by small mementos from each country: a metal copy of the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty in a snow shaker globe, a llama, a multi-piped cane flute, a replica of a Catholic church, a brightly colored “jungle” bus. On each country’s day I fix our favorite meal from that land. After dinner we pull out a photo album or have our own mini global worker slide presentation. We talk about memories we have of being there, people we know, and problems they face. We end the evening by each one in turn praying for some aspect of that country.
We get to have two Valentine’s Day celebrations and I’m glad, because it is one of my favorites! Besides February 14, in September the Colombians celebrate “Dia de Amor y Amistad”-Love and Friendship Day. For both of these days we make a mailbox for the cards we give each other. We each decorate a side of it with red and pink hearts, lace, ribbon, and whatever else strikes our fancy. I keep a supply of these materials and markers, crayons, scissors, and paints on our worktable in the kitchen. Whenever someone has some free time they make Valentines for other members of the family and for our invited guests-always singles that might have a lonely day otherwise. The guests are told of the mailbox and are expected to bring cards for everyone who will be present. We’ve had some of the most creative cards! Ribbon bedecked hearts, original poems, artwork, origami, cross-stitch, bookmarks, pressed flowers. And when fifteen people each give fourteen others a card, the “mail man’s” job is quite fun! One guest this year mentioned the possibility of getting married, but when we informed him that we only invite singles to the party, he said, “Then marriage is out!” So you can’t be at Grandma’s to help her eat her birthday cake. And your brother had the nerve to get married while you were out of the country, like mine did. Celebrate the day anyway. Last night we had a loaf of round bread with our soup. The bread was unusual because it sported a birthday candle and we sang to my mom before we gave thanks. The day of my brother’s wedding we ate “wedding cake” decorated with flowers and plastic doves and the names of the bride and groom. Why celebrate? Because getting your mind off yourself and “a joyful heart” are good remedies to what I hear global workers complaining about-stress, that life is not as efficient as it is back “home”, that the culture is so different. (Of all the nerve! Why aren’t they like US?) I do recall Jesus saying something about tribulation and bearing the cross. But global working life doesn’t have to be a big bummer. God called me here. Where would I rather be than in the center of His will? So the roads in Bogota are always under construction-some day I will walk streets of gold that will never need repair! Maybe tonight’s centerpiece will be a piece of yellow Hot Wheels® track to remind us to celebrate!
Sharon Fleming and her husband of 18 1/2 years celebrate the anniversaries of the first time they talked to each other, going steady, first kiss, engagement and half wedding anniversary, which just happens to fall on February 14.
View the original print magazine where this article was first published.