As I sit here sipping on a cup of tea and munching on the last piece of leftover pumpkin pie, I reflect on one of the most bittersweet days of the year as an American living abroad, Thanksgiving.
People always ask me if it's hard spending the holidays away from home, and my answer is of course! Holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, usually in a familiar setting, and sharing in some kind of traditional celebration. Well, nearly all of that familiarity is swept out from under you when you decide to spend a holiday abroad, which inherently makes you miss home. Also, due to today's social media, the reminder of everything your missing out on at home is more present than ever. So yes, of course I miss my home, friends and family during the holidays, but that doesn't mean I can't still enjoy the holiday.
Thanksgiving is my favorite and least favorite holiday to spend away from home; I'll explain. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is purely about spending time with loved ones. There's no presents, no jealousy, no greed, just appreciation for one another's company. For that reason, spending Thanksgiving away from home is really difficult, because that company which is the central part of the holiday is gone. However, one of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving is that it's intrinsically unique to the United States (and Canada). Many foreigners don't know anything about Thanksgiving except for that we eat turkey with family, if that. This gives me an incredible opportunity abroad to educate others about what Thanksgiving is all about, and naturally the best way to do that is by sharing a traditional Thanksgiving meal abroad with my new friends. I've done this for three years now, and every year the meal has turned out to be a smashing success. Not only do I get to introduce foreigners to new foods like stuffing, gravy and pumpkin pie, but I get to educate them about the roots of the holiday and the tradition of giving thanks before enjoying the meal. Without fail, every year everyone enjoys the food and the values shared along with it. It's definitely one of those "proud to be an American" moments for me.
So hopefully now you understand a little better why Thanksgiving is such a bittersweet holiday for me. I've loved introducing others to the holiday for the past three years but I've got to admit, I'm looking forward to spending my next Thanksgiving at home. I'm long overdue.