Thanksgiving when I was growing up was always a big production. My Mom started hosting when her Dad got sick with cancer. That way all the family could gather and it was close enough to him that he could come, but not at his house to add to his and his wife’s stress. I remember one year where we had over 40 people in attendance. I’m pretty sure the kids out-numbered the adults too. Luckily it was a pretty year so we spent a lot of time outside.
Thanksgiving always meant tons of people and tons of food. We’d start cooking days in advance. Since Mom taught us all at home, we’d get the week off and sometimes not start back until after the New Year so that we could recover and help her host Christmas too. We had turkey and cornbread dressing, gravy, at least two different kinds of cranberry sauce, ham, green bean casserole or green beans and new potatoes, mac and cheese, baked sweet potatoes, mushroom potatoes, fruit salad and dinner rolls. And that was just for dinner, we would have out cheese dip, guacomole and chips, cheese balls, cream cheese with picapepper and/or chipotle sauce, crackers. We’d have candied nuts, date nut muffins, buttermilk pie, pumpkin pie cake, pecan pie, and maybe a cheese cake.
Even in the last few years, when it’s been scaled back because the family has gotten too big for us to all get together due to new family committments, it’s still been a big occasion. One that I’m missing for the first time in my life. During my sophomore year of college we had a big flood Thanksgiving week (it’s what we get for living out in the boonies and across a creek) and my sister and I almost didn’t get to go home, but, we managed to get in.
Thanksgiving in Germany is different. It isn’t a German holiday. But, all the Americans still celebrate it. We’re going to a friends house, it’s a 1st Thanksgiving cooked for all of us. It will probably be just the four of us, but, at least we are celebrating. There are Christmas trees up everywhere already because that’s the next big German holiday. And you can see the military families striving for normal with their families and friends.
We work so hard on making our houses a home because they’re all we have. Sure on the outside the houses are all German but on the inside they’re all American. Getting the houses put together and celebrating every American holiday both seem to be top concerns of the families over here. Sure we know that we’re in another country and most of the time it is awesome but, we still need to feel like we’re Americans. Sure we know that Daddy (or Mommy) may be going off to a warzone in three weeks, but, things still have to feel normal both for those leaving and those staying behind. Picking up and moving every few years is hard. I’m already learning that the faster I can make my new house my home, the more normal it feels and the easier it is to adjust.
So here I am, prepping for my first Thanksgiving married, my first major holiday without my family, and just striving for normal.