a {real talk} look back on thanksgiving

i’m sure you’re a bit tired of me announcing all of my first this and second that, but today it is the good ol’ fashioned thanksgiving holiday. that means that this is the third thanksgiving i’ve celebrated abroad since leaving in mid-2012.  i can’t believe that for three holidays in a row i am away from home. and furthermore, STILL HERE.

the holiday has got to the point where i really can barely remember what a normal american family thanksgiving dinner is supposed to feel like. but then again, i never had a holiday dinner celebration like the ones they portray in movies or on commercials. not even before this adventure. like the perfect ideal shown in advertisements to try to get us all to buy personalized napkin holders to make us believe that we are having a real thanksgiving. they’re so blurred in my memory because i would always come rushing in from seattle between working shifts for black friday, the day that i absolutely had to be at work at all costs.


my holidays in the past were never like this, but they were always real. it was always the three of us: my mom, my brother, and i. sitting around the table. my mother makes us say something we are thankful for. i always contribute to this, while my brother rolls his eyes and piles yet another pillsbury croissant on his plate (because he’s always hated every thanksgiving food except bread. and jello) we would light candles and listen to whatever album was in the cd changer that week. and i always remember eating loads of black olives.

but this dinner was more legitimate as all the ones we are told to believe are perfect. and even our two person thanksgiving celebrations in the czech republic are more legitimate than this. though i feel like i am starting to forget some celebrations of the past, i am done with trying to make it a perfect thanksgiving abroad. however it turns out to be, it just is, and it’s perfect and just as good as any fancy dinner, because we care.

or, at least i care. our conversation went something like this.

cynthia: it’s thanksgiving week! what are we going to eat?
alex: well, chicken… mashed potatoes…
cynthia: what about stuffing?
alex: never liked it.
cynthia: well we need something else, don’t we?
alex: that seems like enough for two people.
cynthia: but it’s thanksgiving! day of eating to excess! having to change into stretchy pants!

the way i saw it, this holiday’s always been about, if nothing else, just having piles of food. what a funny, quintessentially american idea. (and to keep it up even when there’s only two or three of you!) i love thanksgiving leftovers as much as the next guy and perhaps i’m slower to change on this issue than alex is, who generally seems quicker to see the contrast of american over-consumption to the european style of life compared to myself. for the first time i feel like i’m viewing the whole shindig like an outsider looking in.
but then again, thanksgiving has traditionally been a feast day. to come together, share food, and be happy that we have that food and good company. sometimes it can seem like a little much in the larger scope of things, but it’s our holiday to celebrate the good harvest. to let our bellies hang over our belt straps and take a break to enjoy ourselves.


so happy thanksgiving, to my american friends and everyone else. whatever you decide to do is the right thing for you at that time, whenever you choose to celebrate it. and i promise you, it is perfect and it will be real, and you will probably look back on it so fondly, i just know it. whether with family, alone, on the streets, or in tahiti, as long as you are giving thanks and feeling the good vibes, then it is right.

ps, last year’s thanksgiving celebration and christmas tree lighting.