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
the CUTEST THANKSGIVING EVER!
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.