A Faraway Fourth

My Uncle John’s ranch house before the 4th of July party. Foto by my cousin Jim Drought.

Ooops! It was the Fourth of July again, and  I almost forgot again. The Fourth is one of those holidays that’s all too easy to skip when living abroad. There are no long weekends, no red white and blue corn chips, no flags fluttering in front yards, and most tragically, no abundance of backyard barbecues. Most years I try to make it home for the occasion, not because I’m a big patriot, but because it’s a great excuse to get together with friends and family over the summer. Texas is hotter than hell in the summertime, but Texans are experts on beating the heat with swimming pools and cold beer, a combination I enjoy frequently upon these trips. Then, there’s the big game, which I really hate to miss.

My family, for the last 40 years, has celebrated the 4th of July with an ever-more-serious baseball game. I have a large enough extended family to form 2 baseball teams plus cheerleaders, with an abundance of competitive drive and sense of grandeur. My uncle has cordoned off a section of the family ranch with an electric fence to ward off the cows, in order to preserve a perfectly green playing field complete with bleachers and white chalk lines.

Now, I’m about as enthusiastic about competitive sports as I am about the Italian postal service (my biggest moment “on the field” was being knocked out by a stray baseball when I was four years old – apparently even innocent spectators are in danger if my grandmother is pitching), but I’m a big fan of this particular game. I get to see all my cousins, plus there’s cold beer and guacamole. Afterwards we all head home to shower, then meet up at my Uncle John’s house for a big dinner party and fireworks (that’s my Uncle John in the middle photograph above, on the right is my hard-pitchin’ grandmother!)

Work kept me in Milan this Fourth of July weekend, sweating in front of my computer and cursing at the mosquitos which have taken up permanent residence in my apartment. So, instead of feeling sorry for myself (ok, I admit: after feeling sorry for myself for a fraction of a second) I cracked open a cold beer, made guacamole and signed into Skype. Thank God for Skype, I almost felt like I was there. Almost.

Fireworks at the 4th of July party. Foto by Jim Drought.

The game is increasingly international, and we even occasionally allow Italians on the field. Here’s a video of Felipe, my husband’s cousin, upon his memorable baseball debut 2 years ago.


  • Hello! My first 4th of July in United States… great fireworks on the river with a bunch of friends! Ciao Katia

  • What a variety of people you have in your family!!! Holy cow! We had a blast and the ranch keeps getting better and better. AND the Mason’s pool has had a wonderful makeover as well. I love keeping your mama company, listening to your papa tell stories, and seeing your brother’s excitement about his baby girl! You are missed, but I love your blog because it makes me feel like you’re sharing in the experience in your awesome way. I do miss your face and hugging you! ..soon enough.xooxox

  • I was asked to sing the Star Spangled Banner again this year, but we had no flag to salute. Your Uncle Harry had an American Flag T – shirt, so I had him stand out in the middle of the field while we all sang the national anthem to him.


  • Ahhh, Reading your story is almost worth not having you here.
    Loving home from afar is a beautiful thing that makes it even sweeter.

Leave a Reply