As you well know by now, moving abroad has brought about many “firsts” and new experiences over the last three years. Though time has brought comfort and familiarity, at no other time is it more evident that “we’re not in Kansas anymore” than during the holiday season. When a holiday like Thanksgiving simply doesn’t exist, there’s great deal of planning and improvising that has to happen. The one thing that doesn’t change, however, is the anticipation of great food and great company to share these experiences with.
At some point during my carefully coordinated dance in the kitchen yesterday, I realized that it was, well, easy! The turkey had been brining all night, the cornbread was made, the side dishes and hors d’oeuvres were prepped, skype was my kitchen companion along with Michael Buble’s Christmas serenade in the background. This was a turning point. Relatively speaking, preparing a Thanksgiving feast abroad had finally become a no-brainer! I stopped to reflect on our various turkey feasts over the years and I came to one conclusion…this year wasn’t just seemingly easy. It WAS easy!
2008: Our first Thanksgiving was celebrated only about 6 weeks after moving to Spain. Being away from family for our first major holiday was yanking on our heart strings, so we planned to spend the holiday in Munich with Nathan, Shonda, and little Brianna-to-be. The universe had a special surprise for all of us, though, when baby Brianna decided to make her grand entrance a few weeks early! While Mommy and Daddy spent their first hours with their baby girl in the hospital, Uncle Jeff and Aunt Lauren prepared a Thanksgiving feast at the house. Reading labels in Spanish was challenging enough, but German?? Seriously?? In the end we pulled it off, packed everything to go, and brought Thanksgiving to the hospital. This takes the cake for the most chaotic yet memorable Turkey Day experience!
2009: This year we had just moved into our new apartment and we had only just begun to unpack. No big deal! Not even a partially furnished apartment could keep us from sharing one of our favorite holidays with friends. This would be our first Spanish Thanksgiving, so there was a lot of kitchen and cooking vocabulary building while searching the city far and wide for the right ingredients.This holiday was spent with Raúl and Marta, our Scottish friends Rob and Cat, their newborn Aurora, and even their parents who were in town to help with the wee one. I was stressed this time around, not being familiar with my kitchen and lacking essential gadgets, but in the end it was another success.
|Thanksgiving 2010 and what’s left of the turkey|
2010: This year Thanksgiving was BIG. Enormous turkey (I couldn’t lift it by myself), side dishes in massive quantities, and a crowd of 16…whoa! Prep started early in the morning, but luckily we had our dear friends Alex and Kelly in town to help us get organized for the impending feast. Our friends came from all over: Spain, Italy, Scotland, Venezuela, France, and the US. We asked our guests to contribute something to the dinner, and the dishes that were brought were very interesting! Even a typical Spanish tortilla found its place on the table. There was still a lot to be learned over the course of preparing this meal, but with the company of great friends and delicious food, the clean-up could wait until morning.
2011: A very successful Turkey Day! We had a much more manageable guest list this year which I think helped in easing my anxiety of entertaining a bit. In fact, not a single doubt crossed my mind this year that everything would turn out perfectly…not even when the water was turned off in our neighborhood for most of the day! We spent this year’s Thanksgiving with our good friends Deby and Armando, Dawn and Francesc with their little boy Zach, and our new friend Dave. But the best part of this year’s feast? Everyone helped with the clean-up and we woke up to a spotless apartment this morning. We’ve finally figured this thing out!
|Our Thanksgiving family 2011|
*A special thank-you to my Mom and Kirk. Thanksgiving wouldn’t have been the same without your enormous care packages!