Another American holiday spent in Europe. I’m used to it by now – this is my fourth Thanksgiving as an expat – but I still really, really miss my family. There’s no getting around that, ever, no matter how accustomed I get to living over here, and it’s always the worst on holidays like this.
But I’m determined to make the most of it because I am so fortunate in every way and have much to be thankful for, and for that reason I shall celebrate by making my super-special chicken and spinach enchiladas tomorrow. Don’t ask why no turkey. I could maybe get some processed turkey parts at the grocery store, but whole? HA! I can’t even get a whole chicken that weighs more than 2 pounds. Maybe I could go to a butcher but the thing is, there is no cranberry sauce, and there is no pumpkin pah, I’m not even sure I could find canned pumpkin to make my own pah. Which is all fine, because I decided four years ago on my first Thanksgiving as an expat that I’m never going to try replicating Thanksgiving (or Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Labor Day) in Europe. It’d be like trying to replicate Mardi Gras in Finland. The spirit is absent.
And the point of it, fundamentally, is to enjoy and be grateful for what you do have. I have my wonderful Rupert and our awesome new dog, my health, my family’s health, and no real pain except for how much I miss Mom and Dad. I’m so immensely lucky that it stuns me sometimes.
I know – hope – that most of you will be busy tomorrow and even the next day and all weekend, enjoying the time with your family and friends, gorging yourselves on unholy amounts of meats, sauces, pah, and other delicious treats, watching football, and just being happy.
Anyway, today I just want to say thanks to all of you for reading my blog, and especially to those of you who leave comments and posts in the forums, and even more especially those who’ve become my personal friends over the years or even the last few months (you know who you are, I hope). I appreciate all of you more than I can fully express.
The feeling of belonging and community and sanity that I get from you goes a very, very long way towards helping me cope with being away from America for much longer than I expected, and I can’t overstate how much it means to me, what a rock it is when I feel like I’m drowning in the unrelenting foreign-ness and homesickness.
Thank you for that. You’re my friends and my “tribe”, and I really appreciate you.
I can’t make a Thanksgiving post with references to pah! without specifically thanking Amelia in Texas, who has become a wonderful friend over the years even though we haven’t met in person yet. She left a comment 3 or 4 years ago about her little boy calling pie “pah!” and at that moment, I forgot the word “pie” forever. It’s pah.
You know who else I appreciate? This little dog who came into my life 10 days ago and demanded that I stop holing myself up in the apartment for days on end in my pajamas like I’ve been doing for too long because it’s hot or cold outside and I’m homesick and seasonally depressed and unemployable in this country and too busy here inside with obsessive reading and writing and cooking anyway; he’s forced me to get up in the morning and put on regular clothes and stay in regular clothes all day – even shoes! – because we go for a walk every few hours; because of him I have to speak Italian several times a day to people walking their dogs and because of that I’ve already made several new friends. Primo has turned out to be a furry, cuddly little ball of Prozac for me and I’ll be grateful to him forever for that.
He does many weird things and here’s one of them: no matter how big or small his bed is, he wants to hang his head outside of it. When we first got him last week, I went to the closest pet shop and bought the only bed they had, which was a little small, and also not very cushioned so I also got a nice soft cushion and shoved that inside the bed, which made the space even smaller and so this is how he slept:
The folded-up green thing is the little pillow I made him out of my old sweater because I was worried he’d break his neck with it hanging over the edge like that. The next day, still not having found a larger dog bed (and aching from the 40 euro that one cost – that’s about 55 bucks I SHIT YOU NOT ITALY IS EXPENSIVE) – I figured he’d survive with less cushioning in the bed and also needed more space so I took the cushion out so that he’d stop hanging his head over the side. I put about 10 of Rupert’s old discarded white t-shirts all around so he could snuggle with them for some softness, and…
Well all right then. So I folded up another external pillow for him and sometimes he’d use it, sometimes not. Then yesterday I left his bed in the bedroom and just put the red plaid cushion, which is mostly flush with the floor, in my office for him to sleep on to see what would happen, aaaannnndddd…
Primo really, really wants his head on the floor.
Discovering a dog’s quirks and personality is one of life’s great pleasures, if you ask me.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone. It’s been a rough couple of weeks in America but still, for now, it’s pretty great compared to everywhere else. I wish I was there.
If you have downtime, it might be therapeutic to share with us your recipes, or your tales of frantic and/or joyful cooking and subsequent distressing overconsumption of pah!, your traveling adventures (TSA groping is always good times), and of course your accounts of heavy drinking necessary to cope with Certain Relatives.
And it is always lovely to hear what other people are grateful for in their lives. Tell.