RT Cunningham


Special Occasions in November - I have Four to Contend with Every Year

special occasions I don’t care for most of the special occasions that pertain specifically to me. Whether it’s a simple anniversary or some holiday, I rarely enjoy it. This is even more so for those days that are unique to the United States. Being in another country helps me ignore them as much as possible.

Some of these special occasions pertain to my wife (Josie) as well because she’s an American citizen and a citizen of the Philippines. She sometimes reminds me of one day or another I really don’t care to remember.

Special Occasions: The Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day

The United States Marine Corps started up on November 10, 1775. Just to prevent arguments, here are the dates for the five military branches (there are seven uniformed services):

I went to a grand total of six Marine Corps balls - two voluntary and four not-quite-so voluntary. I was with the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Phoenix, Arizona for the last four. They scheduled recruiter refresher training on the same weekend each time, so I had to go regardless. Josie went with me for every ball I attended.

While I was in the military, I didn’t really have time to celebrate Veterans Day because it was the day after the Marine Corps birthday, which usually consumed the weekend. After I retired from the military, and during the eight years before I moved to the Philippines, I always ended up working the holiday. Of course, it isn’t celebrated here.

I didn’t think about either day until the 10th when Josie woke up and said “happy birthday” to me. You know, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine”.

Special Occasions: Thanksgiving Day and My Birthday

Thanksgiving Day isn’t one of the special occasions in the Philippines. As far as I know, American expats and dual American/Filipino citizens are the only people who celebrate it. We won’t celebrate it this year because we don’t have the money to pay for the food associated with the day. We can thank the local utility companies for that.

I ignore birthdays in the Philippines as much as I can, including my own. The people around me celebrate birthdays with food, liquor, gambling and games (for the younger ones). I’m not interested in any part of a birthday celebration. I don’t gamble or play games and I don’t like getting drunk.

I’ve managed to avoid my birthday for most of years I’ve lived here. In fact, I can only remember celebrating it a couple of times. And that was only because the people around me, including some neighborhood friends, convinced me to sit and drink with them.

I won’t mention my birthday to anyone here this month. It’s not important to me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know people will remember it for me. I wonder if I can hide out some place away from home this time. I really don’t feel like celebrating any special occasions for a while.

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By RT Cunningham
November 11, 2017
Special Occasions