Monday, November 13, 2017

Thanksgivings Abroad

I have spent the previous 4 Thanksgivings out of the country and have had some interesting experiences in lieu of the traditional American holiday.

Thanksgiving 2013 was a normal work day for me in France. I took the train from Strasbourg to the small town of Barr and taught English lessons to French kids- mostly Thanksgiving-themed! The following is a summary of my lesson written by some 8th-graders (cute misspellings and inaccuracies included).

"The first Thanksgiving was in 1620, when George Washington decided. The Pilgrims are came at America but they haven’t food. Because of it, a lot of them are diing. Fortunately, the Native American persons helps them, and the Pilgrims are given many food. The Pilgrims, they were thankful, so they created the Thanksgiving. Today, people do a big feast, they are eating a turkey and pumpky puy while watching the American football. Every year there are Macy’s Parade in New York with marching band and Santa Claus. And the day after Thanksgiving you must buy a Christmas tree and make shopping because it’s got good sales. On Friday, is very black, the shops are oppening and the prices are broken, so everybody come and will buy. Thanksgiving is an important tradition in America and it represents the solidarity."

My job was fun, but I definitely felt a little homesick when I went home and had dinner alone. I don't usually struggle with homesickness when I'm abroad, but holidays can be tough.

Thanksgiving 2014 was supposed to be a school day for me in Israel. Instead, I hopped on a plane to surprise David in France. He'd come to visit me in Wisconsin in August- the trip when we officially became "boyfriend and girlfriend." We had tentative plans to see each other again in January. It felt weird to have barely started dating someone and not see them for 5 months.

David was going to be in my former city, Strasbourg, for the opening of the Christmas markets. I found myself browsing flights online, and before I knew it I was on a plane. He had no idea.

During our pre-arranged video chat, I showed him the view from my hotel room window. He replied "Wow, Israel looks a lot like Europe." It took a little while for him to catch on, but I think he was pretty excited. We spent the weekend walking around beautiful Strasbourg. Actually, we even walked to Germany together (because it's that close to the border). I believe this weekend was the first time I thought I might love him. It took me much, much longer to fess up to that to him, however.

Thanksgiving 2015 was a normal school day in Israel. The next day, I had Thanksgiving dinner with the Galilee branch. All of us Mormons in northern Israel (15 of us?) met up in the Tiberias church building and had a pretty authentic American dinner cooked by Sr. Hopkins, a senior missionary. The highlight for me was the pumpkin pie- I think she had someone in America mail her a can of pumpkin. After dinner we helped put up the Christmas decorations. 

It was a very complicated situation to get the members of branch to church on Saturday. They hold church on the Jewish Shabbat to coincide with most people's school and work schedules. That means there is no public transportation, and most of us didn't have cars. To avoid repeating the difficult carpool situation the next morning, several of us slept over in the church building. It was a unique experience. I liked waking up to this view of the Sea of Galilee.

Thanksgiving 2016 was a little less than two months after our wedding and move to France. We didn't have a functioning oven or access to most of the typical Thanksgiving foods, so we couldn't really celebrate. We were enjoying newlywed life but were both disappointed to miss out. It was my fourth consecutive non-American Thanksgiving, and David has never had the chance to experience it. We got through it knowing we would be home the next year...

Don't have any pictures from the day, but this was from 3 days later.

Well, that didn't happen! Immigration is delayed and we don't expect to be in the U.S. until January. We have reached the last step of the process, so that's encouraging. David's file was transferred to the Paris embassy. We're now waiting for them to schedule his interview appointment and are anxious to find out when it will be.

Thanksgiving 2017 hasn't happened yet, but as of this weekend I have some big plans. Since we won't be home for Christmas and I haven't been home since January... I'm coming to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving! I am very very excited, but it's a little bittersweet because David can't come along. He isn't able to take off work and it's pretty likely customs officials wouldn't let him enter the country anyways (since he has a pending immigrant visa).

My plans for my trip home are as follows:
-spend hours of quality time with Buttercup (and my family)
-eat everything pumpkin-flavored
-watch the Macy's parade
-Black Friday shop
-help put up the Christmas tree

I head home in 5 days. In preparation I got my coat out of storage. It hasn't been worn since my last trip to the Frozen Tundra.

Fingers crossed that by Thanksgiving 2018 we will be all settled in America and me and David can have a big American Thanksgiving together.

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