Monday, November 26, 2012

The Sweet and the Bitter: An Expat Thanksgiving

Certain holidays merit special attention while living abroad. These holidays remind us of our roots, our families, and places where we belong. Thanksgiving and Independence Day are two essential American holidays that I always make a point of celebrating. Because the Saudi weekend falls on Thursday and Friday, we were able to actually celebrate on Thursday, rather than waiting until Saturday, as we did in Sweden. We invited a large group of friends to join us in eating traditional Thanksgiving foods and sharing friendship and happiness in this foreign land.

My children joined my husband and I as we baked pies, prepared homemade crescent rolls, chopped vegetables, and cooked turkey. It was pleasant work to cook as a family. My husband is a pie experimentalist and enjoys experimenting with fruit and spice combinations. I am a pie traditionalist and chose to make a lemon meringue pie.

On Thursday, our guests arrived and we set up our feast outside by one of the pools. The kids couldn't resist swimming while the adults ate. Some of the kids, including my own Bubba J, ignored the need for bathing suits and waded in the water with their clothes on. The weather was perfect, warm with a bit of a breeze. American music played out of a friend's ipod and speakers. Our friends chatted, sharing interesting stories and anecdotes.

As I visited with my friends, made in such a short time, luxuriated in favorite American treats, and enjoyed the beautiful weather of my temporary country, I felt so happy. I felt so thankful for the many blessings and gifts in my life, my husband, children, warm weather, friendship, family, the internet, delicious food, comforts, and peace. I truly have an amazing life.

Later in the evening, as I put away leftovers, washed dishes, and cleaned our house, my feelings of gratitude mingled with homesickness. I'm so blessed to have family and friends in many places. But I miss them. I miss my second country, Sweden, and the many friends there who were like family. I miss my childhood home and my parents and sisters. I miss New York, with its breathtaking beauty, as well as our friends. As I feel those twinges of homesickness, I'm reminded that I have led such a remarkable life that I've left bits and pieces of my heart in many places, and that I can claim wonderful friendships in many places.

So how's that for sappy Thanksgiving reflections?

Did your Thanksgiving have elements of sweet and bitter? Did you miss family and friends, while enjoying those who shared the festivities with you? 

1 comment:

  1. This makes me think of my friends scattered far and wide; some we have moved away from, some have moved away from us. It is a sad-happy feeling. I am sad because we can't be as much a part of each other's lives as we once were. I am happy to have had these people in my life. I am happy to be able to maintain some connection with them.