An Expat’s Thanksgiving

I’ve been trying to write this essay about Thanksgiving for over two weeks, but I can’t seem to get it going.

Maybe it’s because I have no history of thanksgiving. Growing up, my mother never made thanksgiving dinner.  She was a waitress and always worked that day.  I cannot remember where we ate that day, or who prepared the meal.  Certainly not Aunt Dora:  she hated to cook and was terrible at it.

When I moved to my own apartment, and subsequent marriage, we went to my in-laws for thanksgiving. That was not very thankful.  One year we went to a friend’s – actually an acquaintance – rather than family for thanksgiving.  It was one of the best.

As time went on and we moved to California, from New York, and then divorced, I took on Thanksgiving as my own.  Thanksgiving is a great holiday:  no religion, no politics, just food.

I would assemble friends and almost friends and feed them.  Every year was a new experience, not a tradition. (Note:  I hate traditions. The problem with traditions is that you have to do them year after year after year….)

One of the best Thanksgivings we ever did was our last one in the States, before we left for Mexico.  My husband’s parents, brother, sister, sister-in-law came to Portland from California.  My sister and brother-in-law came from Las Vegas, good friends from Portland joined us.  I cooked and cooked and we ate and laughed. There were eleven or twelve of us – a good crowd for thanksgiving.

Ten days later, we were on our way to Mexico.

Thanksgiving was different in Mexico. Turkey was easy to find – just go to Costco; cranberries were difficult and expensive, as was canned pumpkin. The thankfulness was easy to find; we gathered a group of expats and cooked and ate.  In between bites, we laughed and remembered thanksgivings in the States.

Now, we are back in the States and I’m trying to find new holiday traditions.  So far, true to my dislike of traditions, we’ve had two different thanksgivings in the two years we’ve been back.  Next year, I am sure, will be yet another different thanksgiving.

What will be the same for all is all the thankfulness that we are here, we are together and we are well.  What more can you ask for?


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