Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee celebration hit a respondent cord. Don't get me wrong, I'm a flag-waving American, but this is an interactive world where another country's joy and sadness travel the miles. What with the war in Afghanistan, the problems in Syria, challenges elsewhere, and the polarization that divides my own country, the Jubilee's mental break caused spirits to soar with the fireworks.
I've always admired Queen Elizabeth II. When I was a little girl, I thought it would be fun to be a queen like her and practiced on my sisters and brother. My reign lasted about a half hour. My mother informed me, queen or not, I still had to make my bed. My sister informed me, queen or not, she wasn't sleeping on the floor. My brother didn't say anything. He just walked away. I took that as a good sign as he could be a pest. My youngest sister, however, pooped in her diaper, a really bad sign.
So I took off my crown, interlocking Kleenex tissues with red Crayon dots, returned to living inside my head, that magical world where nothing turned out to be as big as I thought it was, and got on with living my life. Along the way, time passed, and I found myself in Nairobi, Kenya on Christmas morning. It was the first of three Christmas mornings my husband and I would spend in Nairobi.
I was excited about joining ex-pat British friends for Christmas brunch at the Muthaiga Club. I'd seen Out of Africa a half-million times and couldn't wait to go where some interior shots had been filmed. Before I got dressed, I turned on the radio as Queen Elizabeth would soon give her Christmas greetings on the BBC. I frowned when the reception, as usual, was scratchy and carried the transistor radio into the bathroom, where, for some odd reason, it worked better for longer periods.
By the time the commentator had completed her filling-time mission, I had dressed and was applying a bit of mascara when Queen Elizabeth began speaking. My hand stopped mid-air and buffalo tears began to fall. I didn't know why then -- and don't know why now -- except to say I felt a connection to a modulated voice with a certain strength that bolstered my resolve.
As much as I had told myself otherwise, deep down I'd been a bit sad about another Christmas in another foreign country, another holiday making do with evolved customs and traditions that, well, looked like fun but lacked the warmth of the Christmas I knew. Still, I had reasoned, I was in a country that celebrated Christmas and not a complete outsider looking in, as I'd been in other countries.
Never mind. The tears fell. The mascara ran. My husband handed me Kleenex tissues until the box emptied. I spruced myself up. My husband patted me on the back, and off we went to the Muthaiga Club. The day turned into one of the best Christmas celebrations ever.
I don't remember a word Queen Elizabeth said that morning. But I can still hear the strength in her voice, the voice of continuity of purpose.
Congratulations to Queen Elisabeth II for sixty years of selfless service. She's touched so many lives for the better, including a Yank's like mine.