Yesterday I got to do the small-town summertime festival thing. Lots and lots of volunteer hours and efforts go into these festivals; even suburban towns like the one where I grew up in Minnesota have a summer weekend devoted to celebrating their town-ness. Lots and lots of people with white hair are involved, which makes this sort of thing pull me in like a magnetic attraction. Parades, marching bands, fireworks, apple pie, the whole thing. The season is just starting here in the US; the upcoming 4th of July weekend will have many more of these than are going on right now.
I have to say, I did not really appreciate these things when I was younger. I guess I can add this to the long list of “don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone” items that I never cared about until I left the country and discovered that I do actually miss them. It was the little band concert with the sing-along medley of songs about America that really got me yesterday. I actually did not make it through the line “God bless America, my home sweet home” without tearing up. That’s right, I have never considered myself particularly patriotic or otherwise particularly America-proud, but a medley of “I’m a yankee doodle dandy” with “Over there” and “This land is your land” actually had me in tears. I guess perhaps it really does take absence to make the heart grow fonder. And frankly for all of my frustrations with American politics and foreign policy, there is absolutely nothing like the small town American community/arts festival.