Tuesday, July 05, 2016

My countries 'tis of thee...

This first week of July is full of all sorts of celebrating for a couple of countries we call home. Canada had its birthday on July first. We celebrated by lighting a few sparklers...

...and eating poutine for dinner.

The fries are from Wendy's; Andrew went through the drive-thru on his way home from work and ordered three large fries.

"Seriously?" the girl working the headphones asked.

"Seriously," Andrew said.

"Like, just three large fries?"

"Just three large fries," he confirmed.

She thought he was a little bit crazy, but that doesn't matter. Restaurant fries are much easier than making fries at home! The gravy was made from scratch (by me because I really do cook sometimes (Andrew cooked everyday while my parents were visiting)) and we couldn't find cheese curds so had to settle for a Monterey pepper jack mix (which was quite good, really).

My sister Abra posted a picture from Canada Day 1991 (I had just turned 6) of my cousins and I making a human pyramid (I'm on the top). Canada Day in Raymond is so much fun—the parade (which ran right by my grandma's house), the run, the reunions, the fireworks! It was always such a fun day!

The 2017 Hancock reunion will be in Raymond—over Canada Day, no less—and I really want to go! It will be Canada's 150th anniversary so I'm sure the parade and fireworks will be extra special. We're planning on having a float in the parade ourselves (we're kind of a big deal in Raymond's history (population 3700, so not a huge deal anywhere else, but a big deal in Raymond)). If only it wasn't so far away...

But we'll see what we can do!

July fourth, of course, was Independence Day. We celebrated with some friends. They invited us over for hamburgers. We brought a fruit pizza (though not a very patriotic one because we had nectarines, mandarin oranges, and kiwi, in addition to strawberries and blueberries). And then we headed outside to light a few sparklers...

We lit a few more for the USA than we did for Canada because we pooled our resources with our friends. Our contribution was fairly minimal since we only contributed a few boxes of snappers/poppers and a few boxes of sparklers. Our friends surprised us with a big box of fireworks and we had a lovely show (sitting in the 90% humidity (that number is not a joke) and being feasted on by mosquitoes). I don't know why I was surprised by the fireworks; you'd think that I'd be used to people doing their own fireworks by now (for real though) but I still consider it a public good.

Andrew just pointed out that fireworks are a textbook example of a public good. But let me explain...

Everywhere I'd lived before I moved to the states, watching fireworks was such a community event. A show was put on for the public, at no charge (except taxes, I guess), and it seemed like everyone would go to the show—sometimes over a lake or at the rodeo grounds or whatever—and we'd all see the same show and it was fairly spectacular. The fire department would be there (for safety) and the whole town would gather round to watch. No one did their own fireworks (probably because you have to have a permit and there's a hefty fine for not having a permit if you're caught setting off fireworks...which you can't just buy anywhere (I have never seen a big TNT tent store thing in Canada (I'm not saying they don't exist; I'm just saying that I've never seen one))).

Here they have public shows, or public-ish shows. The baseball stadium does a show (and you can get in free after the seventh inning; but we've never done that) and there are a few other shows around town (and Andrew pointed out the public shows in places like DC and Boston and San Diego so fireworks still exist as a real public good in the states, too, though a whole lot of the shows seem like impure public goods)...but people here seem to really enjoy doing their own fireworks. 

And I still find that a little bit strange.

My girls were getting upset with me the other day for saying "pencil crayon" instead of "coloured pencil" so I explained that, honestly, it's not a word I've been exposed to often enough to have the American term win out over the Canadian term. Pencil crayon is simply the word associated with that object in my brain. Coloured pencil doesn't mean anything to me.

Fireworks must be the same way. A "personal" firework show is still just a little bit of a strange concept. But we had fun.

Here are Rachel and Benjamin by our box of burned up fireworks:

And here are the girls having fun with sparklers and friends:

And, of course, casting some obligatory spells at each other...

Oh, and (because I know my mom will be wondering) sacrament meeting was quite tolerable. The first Sunday of the month is always fast Sunday, which means we have a testimony meeting, rather than a regular meeting. So instead of having assigned speakers give a prepared talk, any member of the congregation can take the pulpit to bear their testimony. Testimony meeting in July has been one of my hardest testimony meetings to get through annually because America is not part of my testimony of the gospel.

My friend Susanne (See, Susanne? I'm still here!) shared an article on Facebook about patriotic worship and how "53% of Protestant pastors felt that their congregations sometimes love America more than they love God."

 I don't think that's solely a Protestant problem/phenomenon; rather I think it's more of an American problem. I have certainly been in testimony meetings where I've wondered what it is we're worshipping (God...or America?), but I'm happy to report that this past Sunday there was no question. There were a few mentions of America, but nothing too over-the-top.

Patriotism is natural, but there's a time and a place for showing this and this year I was happy to see it more in the streets of our community rather than in our chapel.


  1. Do you read Layton Byam's mission blog? (Layton - Daelene - Lavon - Zilpha - Ed & May)

    His first experience with a Fast Sunday in July in California. Same bewilderment about "I know the country is true."

  2. Yes, glad you are back from your July fast. ;)

    North Carolina was rather strict about certain fireworks for much of my life. You'd hear people talk about going to SC to buy the good stuff since those were illegal to buy here. They loosened up the rules a few years back, though. Maybe they figured people were buying them in other states anyway so why not keep the sales taxes in state.

    In my area, Burlington has their fireworks on July 3 every year after having a concert and other activities at the park throughout the day. Mebane does something similar on the 4th. We usually don't go to either, though Andrew likes watching the Boston Pops and the NYC ones on TV. I read a book and glanced up every once in a while. Fireworks are OK, but not worth having to mingle in crowds for me (usually).

    Andrew went to the youth pastor's house on the 3rd for some great fireworks and a cookout. I didn't go.

    Your celebrations sound nice, and the poutine looks tasty.

    One of my Christian Arab friends speaks in churches in the US now that he lives here. He mentioned before how he challenged Sunday school classes: are you American first or a follower of Christ first?, and how he's had people tell him afterward how that really bothered them when they realized how they often thought as Americans first instead of how Jesus would act.

    1. I really liked that patriotic worship article you shared, Susanne. Thanks for that. I am glad that this problem stretches beyond LDS congregations, actually; I had just thought American Mormons were really weird!

    2. I understand not liking the crowd.

      Provo actually does "The Stadium of Fire" (though really it's private and you need tickets to go unless you watch the "leftovers" from the outside the stadium and getting home after is a nightmare!

      I suppose it gets harder to do a big community celebration as communities get larger... Raymond, as I mentioned, is small, so catering to the entire community isn't very difficult. ;)

      I love that question of who you follow first. :)