We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. I mean Thanksgiving was properly and duly celebrated. In the yes-it-was-the-actual-day-and-we-actually-had-a-turkey-and-put-pumpkins-on-the-table-and-filled-our-home-with-friends-and-went-around-and-said-what-we-were-thankful-for kind of way.
I know I haven’t described our life here even a little bit. (Yet.) So it may be difficult to imagine just why celebrating thus is such a triumph. Because Thanksgiving is an American holiday, daily life marches smoothly through it here. Most ex-pats try and have a potluck on the weekend before or after because Thursday is a school day. We decided to stay home from language school and keep the children home for the day, making it possible for everyone to smell the turkey cooking and help set up the tables. Six weeks ago I spontaneously ordered a dear little turkey from a grocery mart that caters to people from other lands. I learned later that this was not an economical decision–that turkey was dear in more ways than one.
Wednesday morning before language school I thawed the turkey and made sweet potatoes with marshmallows all ready for the oven. Then I made pumpkin pie. This involved roasting pumpkins for fresh puree and concocting several tests to get pastry to work, as the ingredients are different. I am pleased to report it did work. I had no time left for apple pie so I made a huge apple crisp and shoved everything in the fridge. Thursday I made my mother’s stuffing recipe, which instantly made me miss her so badly I had to Skype my parents. Then I stuffed the turkey and roasted it and made mashed potatoes. By one o’clock the aroma in the house reached an intensity that caused Alex to call out from the family room, “What’s burning?”
I was in the shower. When I entered the kitchen the entire room was hazy with smoke and there was a burnt-hair sort of smell throughout. We ran into a glitch finding a roasting pan so I used the broiler pan from the oven–which turned out to be too wide. Thus the lovely turkey juices spread out, dried up, and burnt to a crisp. I am pleased to report the turkey was wonderfully edible. Let’s just say the gravy had a sort of smoky undertone. It was kind of good–in a I-wish-that-hadn’t-happened sort of way.
Lastly, and best of all, we filled our table with friends. It was a chance to serve a taste-of-home kind of meal (minus the charring) to people who were also missing home this week. We sat with them and rejoiced in what God is doing in this land and that in some small way we get to be a part of it.
I tell you all this because it may be that it will interest you how these things are done far from home. It’s a bit different–it’s funny, and it’s adventurous. But think twice before you start to feel sorry for us! What do we really hope for from the holidays? All we really want is the time to stop and gather together and hold up the things that are most precious in our lives and in our faith and praise our God for them. Right here, right now is the perfect place to be to do that and it has been so meaningful for me.
Tuesday, December 1 marks four months we’ve lived in this country. I would probably not want to live a single day of the last 120 over again, but in all of them I see God’s hand. I say that with a heart overflowing with thankfulness “to him who walks beside” **.
**from “My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness” by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend.