An Expat Thanksgiving

Working on Thanksgiving was weird. Not terrible, but not cool. People kept wishing me “Happy Thanksgiving”, which was quite sweet, but that kept reminding me of what I should have been doing! Anyway, on the actual Thanksgiving I came home and Jon and I had a little roast dinner and some wine-but then he left me to go to a work party he was hosting. In a word: lame.  I stayed in, out of the rain and wind and listened to Alice’s Restaurant while chopping up a million cranberries. But on Friday I finished work at lunchtime and rushed home to get my cookin’ on: green bean casserole, classic dressing, and the rest of the jalapeno-cranberry dip, and we headed for the train to Hassocks.

I have, and always will, love trains. (In case you were wondering). And trains around the holidays? Magical as all get-out.

Our fabulous hosts for the evening were Colin and Jess, friends of ours who are also half-English (Colin) and half-American (Jess). Although, to be fair, Jess went to uni here and they own a house, so her expatriation has been far more settled than mine so far, and she misses the States much less, I think. She’s got 10 years in England on me! Kal and Amy joined us later, and it was a great night-they’d found a torrent of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for us to watch and laugh at, and there was wine and all the important food-Jon even did a chicken wrapped in bacon. Because he’s fancy, and he likes bacon, and turkey is just…meh. Jess made pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin pie, and then we played Apples to Apples until it was time to make our way back to the station and call it a night.

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Thrice the giving, take three: better late than never.

Apples to apples is one of the greatest games in the world, and probably my favorite parlor game (excluding scrabble, which is #1 of all time, but which I prefer to play with just one partner). Friends-giving, also a wonderful phenomenon. The chance for a third Thanksgiving celebration (even though it was nearly a week ago at this point) was a nice, relaxing round up to the other two familial feasts I took part in this year. We played some silly games, drank some wine, and partook in a whole lot of vegetarian goodness. Yum.

Yesterday I attended my last grad school class ever. After class, I walked over to the library to return a whole armload of books that have been in my possession since the summer, and walking in the crisp, cold dark I was reminded of how quickly this whole chapter began and ended. I realized the other day (and mentioned on one of my other internet narcissistic outlets…coughcoughtwittercough) that in 2011 I got engaged, got married, got a Master’s and moved-will move-to England. And it all happened so fast! C’est la vie, eh? Perhaps this year’s 3 thanksgivings will make up for the fact that next year there may be none.

Thrice the giving, take two.

I dearly love spending the entire day with my mom at her house for Thanksgiving. The cooking, the Macy’s parade, the wandering around in my pajamas until right before it’s time to eat when I shower and put real clothes on, the laziness of the day and the warmth of the conversation that follows. I love it all. Missing so many of the big holidays over the past several years of traveling-Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays-makes it so much more poignant when I am, in fact, present. And now, newly married and facing a move to England in a few short weeks, I know that I won’t always make it home for this day, and when I do go, it just won’t have the same attributes that it always has. Even when things aren’t all warm and fuzzy(and in my family, they definitely aren’t), I wouldn’t trade that for anything, really.

My sister does this thing where she pretends to be sad and cry, and her little one just laughs maniacally in her face. It’s hilarious.

Also, my mother has a mini trampoline, which has become very popular with our favorite little person.

We are all very obviously related.

Success

My defense went swimmingly yesterday and I am a giant step closer to graduating!  I passed, as you can tell by that intensely serious baby up there. That was the face I made as I walked out of my advisor’s office. After the hoops that I had to jump through-including my second reader losing the 70+ page portfolio of my work that I left in her mailbox 2 days before my defense (she found it later) and my dress sort of showing some boob by slipping around under my blazer when I arrived for the meeting (thank goodness for my godiva length hair that hid my bra/boobs until I noticed)-I’m just thankful to be finished. I have a small paper due next Monday, and that’s it. Finito. Master’s degree! Best Thanksgiving ever! So. much. thanks.

Thanksgiving!

A year ago I was bustling around my lovely little apartment in Pyeongnae-Dong, South Korea, getting a Thanksgiving meal together for about 20 expats from around the world. There were only a few of us from the States, and I felt a special need to replicate that feeling of family and gratitude that we get here, even though only some of us had anything to compare it to from back home. Jon took care of a beautiful bacon-covered Turkey (it was insanely expensive from Costco, and it barely fit in our tiny oven!), Marisa and I baked and baked, our guests all contributed a little something, and the menu was magnificent and took up every spare table space in our house. Before we all stuffed our faces, we went around in a circle and said what we were thankful for-it brought tears to my eyes. I was so happy to have the chance to spend such an important holiday a million miles from home, surrounded by good people who cared enough to share this piece of home with me.

I love this picture. We’d just had a little photo shoot with lots of nice smiles for the cameras, and the second the picture taking was over(or so we thought) we all immediately began stuffing our faces again! See that bag of chips and the dip? Yeah.

It was also my first Thanksgiving with this guy-even if it wasn’t in the right country, at least we were in the same country then.

This year I am thankful (maybe not all the time, but most of the time) to be back in my dear Ohio. I’m thankful for my amazing bf and all the love that he manages to show me from all the way across the ocean. I’m thankful for my wonderful, albeit completely crazy, family. I’m thankful for the people that love me and make me feel special every day. I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful for the people that I’ve met here, there and everywhere, and the impact they’ve made on my life.  And I’m thankful for the chance to continue my education at one of the best universities in the country.

There are so many things to be thankful for-sometimes it’s easy to forget. I think that’s why I like Thanksgiving so much. It reminds us to take some time to count the positives in our lives-in between stuffing your face and fighting with Mom about the weight you’ve gained since the last time you saw her (not that that ever happened to me after going away to college, just hypothetical, coughcough), you have no choice but to give thanks for the fact that your life really, probably, just doesn’t suck all that much. With that in mind, Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Papa Sheets-he’s where I get at least 98% of my weird.