Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Very Thankful Un-Thanksgiving

Thanksgivings come in all shapes and sizes. Growing up they leaned towards the larger size with family, friends and friends of friends who needed a place to eat being invited to the table (or tables). I carried this tradition into my married life and when we were still stateside, Glenn and I would make the trek from Virginia to New York or Maine to join my family for the big meal. After a particularly trying trip by air we took to driving and the time in the car was always worth it. Sidney even made his appearance in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning. That was the year we had two Thanksgiving dinners and so much to be thankful for.

Living overseas, Thanksgiving is a very different experience indeed. First, it is business as usual for everyone but the Americans. In Albania we always recreated our tradition by inviting friends to join us for dinner. Last year we enjoyed more than one celebration, one year dinner was quite small and then there was the year that the dinner was so large it involved three tables and ended with my lying on the kitchen floor muttering the phrase "never again". Needless to say, each year has been different but the meaning behind the day is the same. It is a time to pause and give thanks for all that we have.

And because we are still overseas, today's Thanksgiving is taking on yet another look. It is business as usual in Belgium with Sidney having school (although an early dismissal for which I can only assume is a gesture to the many Americans who attend the Belgian school) and Glenn having to work. But it isn't just any work for Glenn as this week he is away attending a NATO sponsored training. I honestly love the fact that we are in an international environment where life doesn't come to a standstill simply because there are a lot of Americans in their midst. Hence, a full day of training on American Thanksgiving. But at the same time his absence, and that of my other family, is making me feel a bit out of sorts. Do I cook a big dinner or not? For me the traditional dinner is just as much a part of the day as sharing it with family and friends. Depending upon his mood Sidney may or may not partake in turkey and all of the fixings. But Thanksgiving without the turkey? I just can't do it so I'm roasting up a tiny bird, mashing up some potatoes and making a few other of my favorite items. If Sidney eats them, great. If not, that leaves all the more leftovers for me (and the only thing better than dinner is leftovers the next day).

It will be a quiet day for sure and could easily pass as just another Thursday for us. But all is not lost as we will be holding our full Thanksgiving dinner in a few weeks. Then I will cook all of my favorite dishes and we'll invite our international friends to join us in the most traditional of American holidays. I can't wait. And simply being able to do so is a reminder of what Thanksgiving is all about. It is about being thankful and I am very, very thankful for having our health, being able to experience everything Europe has to offer, and most of all, being able to share it all with those people we care about. And the turkey? I'll get my turkey. There isn't any doubt about that.

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