True fact: This month I am more stoked about the impending nuptials of William and Catherine than I am my own June wedding. And not just because I have had two four-day-weekends in a row.
Right now in Halifax, West Yorkshire, there is bunting in the Piece Hall and decorations in the shop windows. “Congratulations Wills and Kate,” “We’re open from 1 pm on Friday in honour of the Royal Wedding,” step in to buy your commemorative china, biscuit tins, Union Jack party pieces, royal family masks.*
As an anglophile American living in England I feel happily duty bound to be excited and enthusiastic about this wedding. But it’s more than that. I’ll freely admit to having a sense of envy at the amount of dialogue and excitement and atmosphere being created around this wedding. “We’re so happy about it,” to “Why are we bothering?” “Not the Royal Wedding” celebrations and announcements in the local papers of the street closures for parties on the 29th. I’m living in a country that is (like it or not) unified in culture by virtue of having one of the world’s last great monarchies and its Royal Family, and even the ‘mehs’ are contributing.
I can’t imagine what would be required to create a special, one-off, national holiday which all Americans across all 50 states marked, even in opposition. Growing up in California, three hours behind “real America,” I’ll freely admit to having no emotional connection with the rest of the country with regards to national celebrations. Holidays are for family, not so much for country. The stereotypical American things for Fourth of July, of parades and festivals and fireworks really were non-existent for this Bay Area brat.** Fireworks, especially, because of the (assumed) almost constant risk of fire. New Years Eve broadcasts are tape delayed, and recorded at 9 pm anyways in LA. We’re Catholic; Easter is actually a thing for us. We’re Hindu; Diwali is a thing too, but we expect to be in the minority for that. The closest I think we come to a unified front with the rest of the country is Thanksgiving, and even then, we barbeque our turkey and keep the stuffing on separate for our Hindu veg guests.
I wouldn’t trade how my family celebrates our holidays for the world (I’m abandoning TMM for an extra month during our first year of married life so I don’t miss a fourth Thanksgiving in a row. He will undoubtedly not miss his fourth overcooked turkey in a row.). However, I’m pleased as punch that I’m here in England where I can be part of a happy national holiday.
So, I’ll unashamedly collect my tat. Mugs, totes, biscuit tins, I might throw in a tea towel or two. I’ll read every last scrap of news that comes my way about the wedding plans. I will bake cupcakes and decorate them with lemon curd. We’ll have a braai, even if it rains. We’ll drink out of my rocking retro green Gainsborough tea set. I’ll put on a pretty dress to watch parades and processionals in bed on YouTube. But most happily, on Friday 29 July, I will be celebrating a wedding along with an entire country.
And on Saturday, April 30, I’ll start the countdown to my own right royal occasion.
*I will freely admit buying out the last few Royal Wedding bags for life (cotton eco-totes) at The Body Shop in Halifax. I did not buy the Wills and Kate masks. A bridge too far for wedding tat.
**My attitude has since changed about the Fourth of July. It’s impossible to spend the happiest 4th in DC, being a proper tourist at the reading of the Declaration of Independence in front of the National Archives, watching from a roof as fireworks explode above the National Monument, and laughing and dancing and setting off sparklers into the night without experiencing an epiphany or two.