Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving abroad

Thanksgiving came and went this year.  Just another day here in Central Europe, where it turns out no one cares too much about pilgrims and turkeys.

Joel worked and in the evening we ate out.  I got my turkey, but it was stuffed with sheep's cheese instead of smothered in gravy.  My only news of Thanksgiving came via status updates on Facebook.

But when you are one of very few people celebrating a given holiday, you are kind of at liberty to decide when the celebration occurs.  

So Friday was our Thanksgiving.  And while Joel took his morning off to visit utility companies with our landlord I was determined to spend my AM hours stressed out in the kitchen.  

I mixed and rolled and scraped and mashed while the children played trains and watched Strawberry Shortcake (a necessary compromise for several uninterrupted hours of cooking).

And so, after a short nap and a few tantrums (both mom and kids) we were off, destined just minutes away, our first Thanksgiving overseas.

Delicious food.  Good conversation.  Fun and games.  Dessert.  Hot wine.  Thankful go-arounds.  And of course an evening viewing of Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving special.

It turns out Thanksgiving reaches all the way over here.  That even a day late and thousands of miles removed, laughter and friends and stuffing yourself sick crosses borders and oceans.  And although we missed our family, that overwhelming sense of homesick I expected never did arrive.

Which got me thinking, maybe I do have some things to be thankful for here...

Like a family that can make me laugh even in my worst mood.

Two beautiful boys whose kisses and dinnertime prayers and farting jokes far outweigh their fighting and spilling and absolute inability to leave the house without at least one major meltdown.

A wonderful husband and great father who, in one of the busiest times of his life, still knows how to drop everything for his family.

New friends.  The ones who drive us to and from school when our car, once again, refuses to leave the driveway.  The ones who share their holidays with us, who invite us for sausages and burning stuffed Guy Fawkes on a fire.   The ones who share our holidays, who serve as our makeshift family when our real ones are so far.  Who open their homes and families and lives, though we were strangers just a few short months ago.

Old friends.  With their timely calls and e-mails, their thoughtfulness from across the ocean, and mostly for their constant love and support, for the calming knowledge that they are there for us, whenever and wherever.

Our devoted and loving families.  As well as the technologies that keep us connected and the planes that will soon take us home.

For our difficulties here.  That we are learning patience with the language barrier.  Navigational skills when our GPS fails us.  And that after 6 years of marriage and 28 of life, I am finally learning how to cook.  That without cake mixes and whole wheat tortillas and chocolate syrup I am just now starting to make food from scratch, and actually enjoying it.

Also, on that note, the time with which to make these things.  Because even though I still miss Aiden like crazy, his absence really seems to free up my schedule.

And finally... I am thankful for Hungary (which will come as a real shocker to my husband, the recipient of many emotional calls starting out, "I hate Hungary!").  I like that things are slower here (excepting internet of course), that, alone with kids, someone will always help you on and off public transportation, that they'll give up their seat without a moment's hesitation... that our sons now pray at dinner, "Thank you for Budapest" and beg at the end of the day to go back to "Budapest house."

I am thankful that I can be thankful at all.  That after four months I am beginning to see a light here.  And just now starting to feel at home.    

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