(to all of you who celebrate!)
This isn’t my first Thanksgiving abroad (I spent a memorable one in Cambodia four years ago) but it’s always one that I surprisingly miss the most when I’m out of the country.
It’s even harder than it was four years ago, because now I’m more connected to social media than ever. Every time I go online, I see photos or blogs or Tweets about people going home for Thanksgiving, planning their menus, talking about family. None of that happened here, instead, I had my longest day of the work week.
The thing is, Thanksgiving is hardly my favorite holiday. I rarely got reunited with my family even when I was in the States, and I much prefer Christmas. Like many things, though, my affection for Thanksgiving has multiplied now that I’m away and in a country that doesn’t celebrate.
Still, I’ve been trying to celebrate in my own way this week. I’ve been watching Thanksgiving episodes of my favorite TV shows and telling all of my students about the holidays and making them draw hand turkeys if they’re under the age of 10 (and sometimes if they’re over the age of 10).
It’s still difficult to really celebrate the holiday in a country where it isn’t even a holiday. It’s hard to be away from my family and my friends.
That means it’s more important than ever to be thankful for whatever I do have in my life, rather than letting homesickness take over.
+ I’m thankful for E. A boyfriend, a partner, that never wavers. I’m thankful that he supports me, and believes in every single thing I do, and is proud of me for every single thing I accomplish, even if it’s just getting out of bed when I don’t particularly want to. I’m thankful that he makes the goofiest jokes just to lighten my mood and makes me a huge lunch on Thanksgiving because it’s the day of feasts. I’m thankful that he will cook for me and clean for me and hold my bag on the tram when I’m about to cry about it. I’m thankful he’s so good you can see that halo, and that inspires me to be better. I’m thankful he’s just as obsessed with traveling as I am and that we get to travel together. I’m so thankful that there are so many things about him and us I have to be thankful for that I would need another twenty posts to cover it all.
+ I’m thankful for my family. My mom who listens when I need her to and kicks my butt when I don’t think I need it (which is usually when I need it most). My father who is always steady and remembers every holiday and birthday and listens and takes such good care of the dogs because he knows they are my babies. My sister who I can always message about random things and she will understand right away, my brother that always makes me laugh. My aunt who treats me like another daughter. My uncle who is the most hilarious man I know. My cousin who brightens up my day with her laugh and shares my love of travel. My grandparents who always want to keep up with my life. My grandpa who just turned 87 and can answer my birthday email on his iPad. E’s grandparents who are always beyond thrilled to hear from us. E’s parents who cannot wait to visit.
+ I’m thankful for my friends, near and far. My friend who reads my blog and makes sure I know it. My friend who sends me Billy Joel quotes when she hears I’m going to Vienna. My friends that I can make Hangout dates with that are completely and wonderfully chaotic. My friend who tags me in beautiful fall pictures. My friend who shares pictures of her new kitten with me. My friend who tells me I (one time) helped inspire her new baby daughter’s fashion. My friend who reads every mass email and tells me to keep ‘em coming. My friend who replies to my emails instantly and always makes me glad. My friend who sees a picture of someone who looks like me and tells me all about how it made her miss me.
+ I’m thankful for teaching. My adorable and sometimes annoying and sometimes difficult students. My students who love to learn and soak up everything I say. My students who are more like my friends that I have great conversations with. My students who never miss a day of class. My students who can’t wait to give me the right answer (or any answer). My students who shout “Hello Miss Amy!” when I am (kind of) in hearing distance. My students who want to share every detail of their lives with me (even at inopportune moments, like when I’m reading the class a book). My students who make me earn it, make me work for it, and make me think about what I’m doing.
+ I’m thankful for my job. A boss that I love, that inspires me, that gives me amazing and useful feedback. I’m thankful for support in my job. For flexibility and trust in my job. For co-workers that I can commiserate with and that make me smile. For co-workers that can answer my questions. For co-workers that can translate for me and help me find Czech lessons and offer me more private lessons than I can handle. I’m thankful I have a boss that is having me and E over for a Thanksgiving celebration on Saturday–I can’t wait! I’m thankful to have a job, a skill, that helps me make a living in a way that I like. A living that helps me pay for the essentials, and travel, and pay off my education.
+ I’m thankful for my health. My legs that have carried me all over the world, and hopefully will continue to do so. A heart that beats strongly and steadily. Feet that don’t hurt if I remember to wear different pairs of shoes. Eyes that (with help) can see so many awesome things in this world and read so many books. Hands that can type and keep in touch and do so many things. A brain that can read and write and talk and learn a million new things a day and help me keep up with my life. A stomach that usually is made of iron. An immune system that is doing surprisingly okay as a teacher.
+ I’m thankful for books. Books that show me the world, bring me comfort, teach me new things, ease the burden of commuting and traveling. Books that open up the world and make me think, books that are read so many times they are truly friends themselves. Books that inspire me to live the life I do, and take me to so many worlds that won’t be my own but can be just for a little while.
+ I’m thankful for photography. Even with my limited skills, the pictures I take of my life and my places and my people and my moments will always be priceless to me.
+ I’m thankful for this incredible opportunity I have, to experience life in a whole new country.
+ I’m thankful for technology, and that I was able to FaceTime my parents and siblings last night. That I was able to see my dog wag her tail on camera from across the world. For Netflix and downloaded TV shows and movies that give me a taste of home even when I’m far away. I’m thankful I can watch episodes of Friends and the West Wing and take myself back to Thanksgiving in the States for an hour or two.
+ I’m thankful for this blog. An outlet, a friend, a hobby, a job, a passion, a meeting place.
+ I’m thankful for every single comment I get on this blog. I see all the Internet trolls out there and count my lucky stars that I’ve never received anything but positive support and friendship. I’m so thankful for all of you!
+ I’m thankful for…boots, and hot water, and my new red lipstick that I’m a little scared of, and hand turkeys, and my phone, and my water bottle, and my computer, and my camera, and care packages, and comfort food, and hot cocoa, and all the coffee, and coffee shops, and Internet research, and my insanely cozy plaid scarf, and French fries, and lesson plan ideas, and holiday nail polish, and holiday decorations, and huge sweaters, and Advent calendars full of chocolate, and mashed potatoes, and any kind of potatoes, and holiday-themed outfits, and holiday everything, and good-smelling candles, and the washer that usually works in our apartment, and heat, and my down slippers, and my big warm jacket, and music that puts me in a good mood, and music that makes me cry, and cinnamon, and Christmas markets, and hot mulled wine, and travel planning, and hot tea in the morning, and my toothbrush, and for all the Thanksgivings past.
What are you thankful for?
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