Thanksgiving. I think I’m having flashbacks to last year when times were tough. Although, when I really think about it, I think being away at Thanksgiving is the hardest time of year for us. Yes, more so than Christmas, Easter, birthdays… I have always loved the big family dinner, no stress to buy all sorts of gifts like with Christmas, pumpkin desserts… It is really difficult being out of the US for this holiday as well because NOONE else knows. It is like any other day for all our Aussie and other expat friends here. Pretty much on Thursday, the hubby and I woke up, smiled and said happy Thanksgiving to each other, then had to go about the day as usual. With the time difference, it really wasn’t til our Friday that we knew everyone back home was all happy in their little food comas… and it was just another day for us again. It sucks… sorry no other way to put it really.
Now, per usual with things that were and probably will continue to be difficult while living here (ie Thanksgiving) I feel it best to take a comic look at it all… because really it is all a bit funny in the end.
Last year was truly a hot mess. I was sad about being away for the holidays, poorly adjusted and pretty much a miserable person to be around. Despite this, I decided to take on cooking a full Thanksgiving meal. Yeah, I did that.
The first issue was finding a turkey. As I said, noone is looking to roast a turkey in November here in Australia. It is getting hot, and they may have that for Christmas, but they are not readily available in most stores. I ended up getting a frozen turkey from Aldi- Oh the horror! Don’t get me wrong… I love Aldi. This was the first semi-affordable market chain I found here. But, frozen turkey!? I should explain myself and my family are what you may call turkey snobs. Anyone who grew up in Southern NH or even North of Boston has options for good turkey farms… ours was Raymonds. Oh man. They actually slap on stickers to the turkeys and turkey pies that say “Fresh Killed Turkey” (sorry to all my vegetarian friends out there!). They are massive and oh so good… and I’m not sure what they put in their pie crust (I’m assuming just lots of Crisco) but it is amazing. Needless to say, going from some fresh killed turkey to frozen from Aldi I felt a bit Australia’d.
The other ridiculous moment from last year was not very funny at the time (at all actually!) but now is a bit comical. Anyone who has lived away from home knows it can be very difficult at times. Not only that, but random things bring up all sorts of emotions… it can be a song you here, smells of certain foods, taking out certain holiday decorations… Anyways, I had never cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal on my own and had never been in charge of many of the family recipes. Well, I took on my nana’s pork stuffing that we have every year. Holy mother, all I remember was adding all the different spices to the mixture as it cooked over the stove and starting to sob. Sorry to those who came to Thanksgiving dinner last year, I think some of my tears were in that sutffuing. It is still so crazy to me that just smelling that cook was able to bring back so many memories and emotions. So there I was, by myself, cooking this out of control meal in 85 degree weather with the harbour bridge just outside the window. Yeah I know, life is hard… but at the time, I really couldn’t get past any of these emotions to enjoy the awesome experience yet.
In the end, our dinner ended up being wonderful. We ran our first 5k together that Sunday morning (dressed as Santa) and had a couple of friends join us for dinner. One other American and a South African who now lives in Sydney. It was lovely and really does go to show you that although holidays are very different when living as an expat, can be great.
Here we are a year later ready to do it all again (Santa fun run included)! I know I keep stating how much difference a year makes, but it truly has been a different experience this time around. No tears in the stuffing (thankfully), a few more friends to share the meal with (now that I know I can manage it), and a new outlook on life. Not to get overly sentimental, but I am very thankful to have this opportunity to live overseas. I am thankful for the overall life experience this has given me over the past year… helping me to grow as an individual, understand myself and the world in a new way, and for me and the hubby to develop an even stronger relationship. More than that, I am thankful for new friends I am able to share this experience with and old friends and family who put up with our crazy life/travels and always make us feel they are still there for us and ready to welcome us home. Most of all I’m thankful for the hubby… being patient with my crying, occasional yelling, irrational anger regarding Mexican food, and buying me $12 pints of Ben & Jerry’s as needed. Okay. Maybe I just shed a tear. But definitely not into any of the food this time around.
This is what happens when I put the hubby in charge of taking food pics while I finish cooking... he gets it done, just after it has been devoured :)
Pumpkin cheesecake before being all plated up...
Our Thanksgiving table set up in our living room!