Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy... Nothing Day!

I am almost tempted to blame it on the body snatchers. But I think it's expat-ism that is really to blame for the Thanksgiving that Wasn't.

It is the fourth Thursday in November - it is Thanksgiving, to my mind the most important U.S. holiday! And for the first time (to quote A Chorus Line), I'm feeling nothing.

It's strange, really. Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday; at least, since I grew up and stopped fixating on the big gift and/or candy holidays. Thanksgiving is beautiful, inspiring people to feel gratitude and share love with with their families and friends. The classic T-day feast features the best of American food (except for bagels and peanut butter/chocolate, maybe). And there's hardly any commercial aspect to Thanksgiving (if you can drown out the Black Friday adverts).*

While living abroad - fourteen years total between my earlier stint in Germany and the current one in Switzerland - my heart had always been achey-breaky over missing Thanksgiving, the time with my family and the traditions. A few times, I did up a makeshift Thanksgiving for our tiny family unit in our itty-bitty kitchen with the teeny-weeny oven and refrigerator, And I'm lucky also to have shared many wonderful Thanksgiving events with dear expat friends. Every year, I made my proprietary walnut bread, the one recipe only I was ever mandated to make, since I was 11 years old.

But this year, while happily observing the gratitude emanating online from my American friends and family, I'm feeling that today is a plain, old Thursday like any other. Though I promised my daughter we could watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving** tonight, she decided to play at a friend's house, and that's fine. We had work, we had school and we'll probably have müesli and yogurt for dinner.

Of course, we could make this and have
This letting-go of Thanksgiving Thursday might be the single biggest change I see in myself since living abroad. (Besides, of course, that I now find lukewarm Diet Coke nearly acceptable and don't blink when I see cold fish and cucumbers on a breakfast buffet.)

But I am not sad. I am happy to think of the Americans I love enjoying this special day. I am happy I have to deal neither with Black Friday nor with boring sports on TV. And I'm stuffed with gratitude for many reasons. One of these is a wonderful American-German friend's invitation to celebrate Thanksgiving belatedly on Sunday. We will be a multinational, multilingual melange of 10 adults and 8 kids. The kids collectively are of American, Swiss, German, Canadian and Scottish blood, and there may be more nationalities.

I wonder what Thanksgiving memories those kids will have! Thanksgiving will surely have a much different meaning for them as they grow up, but I hope it will be, to them, just as special.

*Adverts? Did I just write 'adverts?' Good grief, I have been in Europe a long time!

**In 2011, I attempted to latch my daughter and I onto the U.S. holiday spirit by showing Li'l G It's A Wonderful Life for the first time, but it ruined her. She howled with inconsolable sadness for two hours when George jumped off the bridge. So Snoopy it is in 2012.

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