Thursday, November 24, 2011

Finding Thankfulness

It is Thanksgiving Day and, to be honest, I didn’t wake up feeling very thankful. The Germans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and so, not only am I thousands of miles from everyone I love, but there isn’t a pumpkin pie in sight. While my family is gathering around a table filled with my favorite foods, I am going about business as usual and trying not to think about holidays of any sort. I don’t even have the usual “tomorrow is Friday!” mantra to help me get through because this weekend my host parents are going out of town and I have the kiddos. And, because one good turn deserves another, it’s been gloomy and gray here all day.

I’d like to say that as the day wore on I magically snapped out of my poor mood and was singing Christmas carols by lunchtime, but it isn’t true-- because some days are difficult and this is one of them.

However, just because a day is hard doesn’t mean it needs to be bad. And so, I have once again decided to choose joy. On this Thanksgiving, when I am so far away from the familiar, these are the things I am thankful for:

German Christmas cookies
I could dedicate an entire blog to Germany at Christmastime. It’s magical. And the baked goods are to die for. It’s difficult to be in a bad mood while munching on Spekulatius and Lebkuchen.

An unexpected afternoon off
This afternoon my host mom unexpectedly gave me the afternoon off and it was a wonderful surprise, especially since I am working all weekend. I have been entertaining myself with Christmas cookies (see previous entry) and a good book.

Other expat friends
While I know my family misses me and sympathizes with my no-turkey plight, you can’t quite understand what it’s like to spend a holiday in a foreign country unless you actually do it. And so, today, I am thankful for all of the wonderful people I know who are scattered throughout the world eating canned soup and pretending it’s a feast. Sometimes just knowing that you aren’t the only one makes a world of difference.

Snail mail
Yesterday I received a card in the mail from a very dear friend and it made my day. It is currently propped up next to my alarm clock and every time I look at it I smile. Email is fabulous and I love Facebook as much as the next person, but there’s something sort of special about taking the time to address an envelope and buy a stamp.

As much as I hate the homesickness when it creeps up on me (and it does creep, you never see it coming and then BAM it slaps you in the face), I am thankful that I have a home to miss. And, of course, I am thankful for the people who make it home. I am thankful for their laughter, their support, their emails and cards. I am thankful for the thousands of stories that we share and for the thousands more we haven’t written yet.

On this day, in this country, I am thankful. And it is enough.

Sending Much Love,



  1. I remember my first Thanksgiving away from home.I was in Miami working at Eastern and didn't have the holiday off to go home. Not knowing how to cook( I can burn water ) I had my Thanksgiving day feast at McDonalds. Love U. Mike

  2. I have thought about you and being so far away from home at the holidays. Thanksgiving is an interesting one, since they don't celebrate it over there. Christmas will be a different. I would imagine while hard, it would also be fun to experience the holidays in a different country. You will be there for the whole will really get a feel for a European Christmas. I suspect you will find comfort in church, especially when Silent Night and other Christmas songs soothe your soul. Close your eyes and imagine us singing the same songs over here. Sending love and support, and looking forward to your next chat with us. Love, Aunt Julie

  3. My first holday season without you will be a challenge for me. But I will try to follow your example and choose JOY!! Our family has been very blessed and this year more than any other I am so thankful for YOU, your brother and your Dad. Where we come from is as important as where we go!!
    I love you