Thanksgiving: Expat-Style

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2014 officially marks the third scholarly year and fourth Thanksgiving I’ve spent abroad. As my family can attest, Thanksgiving has never been a priority for our holiday celebrations. We tend to celebrate Christmas (and not with turkey dinner) all together and scatter on Turkey Day. Even during my four years as an undergrad, I only came home once. One week before exam prep began in earnest, two six hour plane rides, a three hour time difference and four days at home. Once was enough, thank you.

My favorite part of the holiday has always been Green Bean Casserole. Frozen green beans, cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions baked into something that in no way resembles a vegetable. It is delicious and completely lacking in sophistication. I also like my grandmother’s Turkey soup, traditionally made after the holiday, but she typically saves a container in the freezer for me. So I make my own Green Bean Casserole and eat turkey soup at Christmas, it’s the best of both worlds.

Last year, Thanksgiving was barely a blip on my radar. It was the first year I did absolutely nothing to mark the holiday. And with no remorse or even a second thought I went to work, came home and ate…well I don’t even remember to be honest. But I know it wasn’t turkey dinner.

Even the year I took a four day Thanksgiving vacation in London I manage to have a “Thanksgiving Dinner.” Granted it was at my former residence hall and was definitely a meal I could have done without, but I still managed to do something.

The year I lived in London, a fellow American and her residence hall found a catering company that delivered turkey and all the fixins and would return the following day to collect the detritus. I was invited to join her and happily did so. It was the perfect way for expats to celebrate the holiday-that-isnt in Europe.

And then there was this year. I don’t know if it was because there are more Americans in my course, who focused on the holiday, or if I maybe an feeling just a touch sentimental, but this year there has been a lot of to-do over the holiday. Hell, I even had my professor British professor say “Happy Thanksgiving” today. Granted he splits his time between Bordeaux and Wisconsin (really? I don’t quite understand that one). And he studied in the US for many years. But still…this is France and Thanksgiving is a truly American celebration. (What other country celebrates being thankful by being complete gluttons and overeating?) So in honor of the holiday I went to the local ‘American Restaurant’ aka Burger Joint and my Thanksgiving Dinner consisted of two cocktails, a bacon-cheese burger and a plate of fries. I do have a piece of turkey, potatoes and green beans waiting for my culinary genius. But my last class ended tonight at 8:30 and I just wasn’t that inspired to cook.

But don’t be fooled, I have a lot to be thankful for. And I truly am thankful for the blessings and the opportunities in my life. So on that note…. Happy Turkey Day! Don’t forget to be thankful and eat some extra Green Bean Casserole for me.

 

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