Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in another country: Part 2

So Part 1 was all fun and games (if you consider trying to substitute asparagus for green beans in "Green Bean Casserole" something akin to fun), but Part 2 is a little more...what's the word here?...solemn? bittersweet? nostalgic? We'll see.

I read a blog post the other day that hit my heart in a soft spot.

These things I relate to, in particular:
"Because when you’re missing the one(s) you love for the holidays, it helps to fill the empty places with familiar sights and sounds.
Unlike a lot of military folks, my husband has been home for more holidays than gone. But we have spent too many to count away from extended family."
Ok, WE have only spent one holiday season (thus far) away from extended family. Plus this one. But it's still a big adjustment. Granted, we spent last Thanksgiving in Morocco, which made things a little easier since we could kind of ignore the holiday altogether. This year, we'll spend it with 50+ friends from our "church" group. It will be fun, there will be good food, but it won't be "home". To alleviate this "far from home" pang, I'm making my apple pies (one to take to the feast, one for me and Z to have at home. I'm blaming that on pregnancy. But also I would do it anyways. I love that pie). To embrace the adventure of a different Thanksgiving, I'm also making two new dishes. A grown-up green bean casserole and a savory sweet potato side (heavy cream and gouda cheese...need I say more?)...I'll let you know how they turn out. Who knows, maybe they'll become staples at our table.
"Because when you’re missing the ones you love for the holidays, the hunger for their closeness eases when you fill up on familiar tastes and treats.
And then there are those holidays piled-high like mashed potatoes, those spent with family away from family – friends who couldn’t go home, either. The plane fare was too expensive, the weather too tricky, and the work schedules too demanding. So we circled our wagons and brought whatever said “home” for us to our community table."
See above "apple pie" comment. But one thing I love about our Thanksgiving this year...people are encouraged to bring a dish that says "home" to them. There's going to be a lot of the "usual" fare, but also some fun new things that I'm sure will have great stories behind them. Things like sweet-and-sour meatballs. Surely there's a story behind that.
"Because when you’re missing the ones you love for the holidays, it helps to blend your own favorites and their favorites into new favorites.
If this holiday season finds you wishing you could look across the table and see those who aren’t there, know that it’s okay to lament their absence. Know that it’s okay to long for them more than your grandma’s homemade divinity. But also know that while your loved ones may be away, the goodness of God is not. Keep your heart open for His miraculous gifts, His just-try-it recipes for different but good memories. Your celebration may not look exactly like you hoped or planned, but it may have a glorious beauty all its own."
I am thankful we have a place to go for Thanksgiving, and good friends to spend it with. I am thankful we'll have all sorts of delicious food. I am thankful that I am not in charge of cooking a turkey (phew! Keep the streak going...3 Thanksgiving's as a married couple and have dodged turkey cooking every time). I am excited for this evening, when all of us "far-from-homers" will gather together and make our own "family" and stitch together a new patch in our quilt of holiday memories.
In the meantime, a big chunk of my heart will be in Georgia. And this is ok, too.

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