This year is my first Thanksgiving abroad in quite a while. Five years ago when I moved to NYC I started a tradition of Thanksgiving with friends. Every year my sister would come visit from Arizona and we would go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and then come home and cook a big feast for all of my friends (and of course go shopping the day after!). It became my favorite holiday and most cherished tradition. When I told my friends that I was moving to Beirut the first thing most of them said was, “What about Thanksgiving??” (And this was way back in February!) Before leaving the States, I passed on the hosting duties and taught a friend how to make my famous stuffing recipe, so as I type the celebration is being carried on without me. I know that I am with them in spirit (or at least in stuffing anyway).
Thanksgiving in Lebanon isn’t *quite* the same. Today went on just like any other day (although I did get lots of Happy Thanksgiving messages, even from Lebanese friends). I have to point out that the American school had today off, though my international school didn’t. Work isn’t stopping us Americans from celebrating though. In fact, as it turns out, I’m celebrating Thanksgiving more here than I ever did in the States.
Last Sunday, my friend Helen hosted a big pot luck Turkey dinner for her church and work friends. (Her Brazilian friend volunteered to make the Turkey and comically showed up to the dinner with the Turkey uncooked! It was his first Thanksgiving and let’s say it was a learning experience. At about 1 a.m. the Turkey was finally ready and it actually came out quite delicious.) Saturday, all of the teachers in my building (mostly American and Canadian) are having a potluck dinner together. Then on Sunday, I’m hosting my own Thanksgiving. This is the one that I’m most excited for. My friend Kim and I invited all of our Lebanese friends to celebrate with us. None of them have had Thanksgiving before so we are really excited to show them what it’s all about. Last count we had 14 coming for dinner. I can’t wait! The most challenging part will be the grocery shopping as some things can be difficult to find here. You would think celery was a delicacy it’s so hard to find. Cranberries, pumpkin pie, yams . . . all this stuff is not on prominent display at the grocery store, let’s just say that. We’ll make do though and I know Sunday will be great.
Finally, what would a Thanksgiving post be without mentioning what I am thankful for? As always, I am thankful for my wonderful family and friends. This year I’m especially thankful for the new things in my life, like my wonderful boyfriend, a job that I love, and the opportunity to live here in Lebanon and experience everything that it has to offer.