Friday, November 23, 2012

A Very British Thanksgiving

Wednesday 21 November
Being across the pond from my family on Thanksgiving is difficult. I don't imagine my birthday being that weird over here, and it hasn't been that difficult being away for this semester but there's something about spending Thanksgiving apart that is so strange.

I guess it's because birthdays and other holidays are about other things and the family gathering is just a happy byproduct of celebrating the holiday, but Thanksgiving is all about the family getting together, at least for me. To me, Thanksgiving means giving thanks to God for all of the amazing people and opportunities He has presented you with, which I can definitely celebrate here, but it is also about celebrating as a family and seeing people that you may not see everyday. And of course it's also about the delicious food for dinner, the mountains of leftovers and my Grandma's noodle soup that I am obsessed with. But when it comes down to it, what I'm really missing is the family atmosphere of Thanksgiving. In a way I think that this is the most difficult holiday to be away from home for. I'd almost rather be away for Christmas but home for Thanksgiving.

And its weird being in a place that doesn't even know what Thanksgiving is. Tomorrow, I'm going to wake up and its going to be a special day for me, but when I go into Oxford for lunch it's just be any other day for everyone around. And that for me is quite strange. And then it gets me thinking, the people who landed in America and had that "friendly" dinner with the Native Americans were actually British settlers. So maybe they should join in on our celebration. It's an excuse to eat food and give thanks. What's not to love?

Although I have to say there is one plus to being in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving. Without Thanksgiving there can't be a pesky "No Christmas until Thanksgiving" rule so I've been jamming to Christmas music for a few weeks here. I can feel you all shaking your heads at me right now--especially you Katie!--but I just love Christmas music and there's nothing holding me back here. They've already started decorating for Christmas everywhere so why can't I start celebrating?
Anyway, Dr Schweitzer has organized a Thanksgiving Dinner for all of us High Point students tomorrow so at least we will have some sort of Thanksgiving celebration. This is super nice of the university and I'm pretty grateful because I am not much of a cook, so I don't think me helping to make a Flat Thanksgiving meal would end well.

Thursday 22 November
Just got back from our High Point Thanksgiving feast which was actually quite good. I wasn't really sure what top expect because our typical Thanksgiving food is very American. I mean it is an American holiday so it makes sense. For instance they don't really east pumpkins here. They actually find it quite strange that we do. And pumpkin pie I'd such a Thanksgiving staple so if it wasn't there it might make our break Thanksgiving for some people-- not me, because I don't eat pumpkin pie but a lot of people love it.

It was a really good meal with most of the staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables  sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. And don't forget the gravy. At first I thought that they didn't have any gravy and I think my heart stopped a little bit. Obviously an exaggeration  but I seriously love gravy. I did find out that the gravy was hiding in a hot drink pitcher, so then my heart resumed its normal beating. 

It was actually pretty cool having a British catering company's attempt at an American Thanksgiving meal. Because things were largely the same but there were little differences. The pies were kind of different (they used tart apples I think) and British stuffing is actually quite different from American stuffing. Whereas American stuffing is usually made from bread cubes and stuffed into the turkey, British stuffing is made of very small bread crumbs and other herbs and is served shaped like a sphere. They're both different, but I think I like British stuffing a little bit more. 

It's been cool telling friends about Thanksgiving because they don't exactly understand. But our friend Beth actually texted wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving which was super nice of here and cool that we've been able to share a little bit of our culture with her since she's taught us so much about British culture. 

But yeah, it was quite weird celebrating Thanksgiving without my family, and unfortunately even though the meal was pretty much as authentic-American Thanksgiving as you can get it just didn't feel like Thanksgiving to me because my family wasn't there. But that can't be helped of course, so I just have to power on. 

It did get me thinking though about how thankful I am for my family and friends as well as all of the opportunities that I have had here in England. As cliche as it is, it really is a dream come true. 

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