Thank You Erwin

This is going out to my husband. Why? Well, he's basically a good guy that gives lots and cares deeply...and he helps me succeed in raising our kids to be world citizens living in one culture while encompassing the cultures and traditions of two other cultures that are important in our children's lives. Last week I sent Erwin an invitation to our 4th of July party. This was after he reminded me that there wasn't much time left to send out invites and get everything prepared. And then later in the week I sent him a grocery list for the must-haves for our BBQ, which he purchased after work one day. And then all through the week he came home to paint and pictures and decorations littering every surface of our home as the boys and I made American flag creations in red, white, and blue. And then Saturday, when we had so much to do, our hot water heater gave out and he organized the purchase and installation of a new one (even tho opa did all the actual work...thanks SO much, opap!!!) while I ran around picking up the last minute stuff for our party...and spending even more money. And Sunday, while I was busy preparing food and organizing our BBQ, my husband spent all day cleaning outside,and decorating with American flags galore to create a 4th of July atmosphere unknown to this area of the world. He carried loads of chairs and tables down from the attic, washed them all, put away the mess of a winter's accumulation of crap int he serre, and then created little America in our garden. And he did it all without complaining. In fact, he was even smiling most of the day and at the end of the night when everyone had left our home filled with good food and the spirit of America pulsing through their veins after lighting the torch on the statue of liberty, he told me that our party was a success. Yes, my dear, it was a success...and that was because of all the work you did to help make it so. For accepting my American culture as your own, for wearing a USA t-shirt with pride, for teaching our children special dates in America's history, for buying hamburger buns which weren't on the list just because you know Americans like hamburgers ona bun, and for buying corn on the cob even though you think it's meant for pigs. Each year as we bring doen the bin filled with American decorations, your world opens a bit bigger, and you look forward to the party we share with our family and friends from all walks of life. You understand the importance of honoring a country which meant nothing more than an intereting place to visit less than 10 years ago. Today you envelop America with teh same enthusiasm as I. You look forward to vacations "home", you keep up with the sports and news from the other side of the atlantic, and you bring it all home, here in Belgium, when you place the American flag proudly at the head of our dinner table.

There is noone but me that understands the impact of your thoughtfulness. Nobody can feel the spirit of America and your acceptance of it but me. Nobody knows what being a tri-cultural family is like but those in the situation...us. Nobody knows the importance and desire to instill pride and love ,n acceptance and envelopment of two nations, in our children, but those that strive to do so...us. And Er, we're doing it well. We're making it work, because you are open to accepting me by accepting my traditions and my roots. I moved here to be with you. I uprooted my life to call this my home. But for you, staying here was just as difficult with all the changes that came into your life, and from the first moment my gratitude to you for all you do has never wavered...thank you for being my husband, my love, and my support. Thank you for knowing my needs and putting up with my failures. Thak you for hanging the American flag, and doing so with the knowledge that this is something that is natural and ordinary and necessary in our lives. It's not just about a 4th of July party...it's about accepting me, where I am from, the values and norms I have within, and making it all just another day in our life. I love you.

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