Monday, November 23, 2009

A Year and Thanksgiving

I have lived in England a year now. I know, hard to believe. While I still feel like a fish out of water sometimes (ok..a lot of the time), I have gotten to the point where it is starting to feel a bit like home. I have a normal routine. I have priceless friends. I know the rules of the road. I have my bearings.

Then Thanksgiving rolls around. How do you describe a holiday that has no significance to friends who have no frame of reference? I mean really, it is a holiday that can sound quite silly to those who have not grown up with it.

"It is a celebration of...ummm...a bountiful harvest. The old wives tale is that the Pilgrims and Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving together, but that is really silly because the Pilgrims and Indians pretty much hated each other. So...anyhoo, we get together as a family, cook a huge turkey, make green bean casserole, and other side dishes...eat until we are about to explode and then watch football...no not THAT football. Oh and pie, there is lots of pie."

This year I was dead set against cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. It is a lot of work and there are only four of us here to enjoy it. That, from my frame of reference, is no way to spend Thanksgiving. Really, the food is only a small portion of the Thanksgiving equation. Thanksgiving is really about being with family and friends. Spending time with people you love (even the ones who annoy you to no end) and reconnecting is then main reason for Thanksgiving. Then I had a change of heart. I am not doing Thanksgiving for me. I am doing it for my kids, so they have a frame of reference. It is part of our culture. They need to build Thanksgiving memories just as I did. Sure, their Thanksgiving might be a little smaller on the years that we can't visit the rest of our family, but it is still a time for us to reconnect with each other, invite over friends (even those who don't understand it), and have a day where we can say "Thanks. Thanks for giving us each other."