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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day in Sweden

Actually, a better title would've been Thanksgiving Day while living in Sweden as it is not Thanksgiving day in Sweden. Nope, it is just a regular Thursday and for some reason Thanksgiving day always makes me feel a little homesick. I should be better able to predict this after 11.5 years of living abroad. Even during my two years living in Colombia, South America Thanksgiving was the hardest. I think it's because it's the only place in the world where it is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November. And it's this grand holiday in the States and you get Friday off too and now I have Facebook to let me in on what everyone's doing in order to get ready for Thanksgiving and it just reminds me that I'm not there.
My American friends here in Stockholm are very empathetic. Most of us are doing something on Saturday with other Americans to eat the food and enjoy the cheer. But for some reason, missing the actual 4 day holiday just leaves me with feelings of homesickness and longing.
For me, Thanksgiving was often centered on football. My father was a high school football coach and Thanksgiving weekend was the second round of the high school championships and once his teams started going to the play-offs, he never once lost a first round game, so that meant that almost every Thanksgiving was shrouded with football! Thanksgiving morning found many in the community at the high school, attending the last practice of the week before the big game, waiting with freshly baked pies to serve the coaches and players after practice. We had a lot of pies. Each person got 1/4 of a pie! The guys always had a field goal kicking contest as well and it was always the perfect start to a fun day. Friday was full of excitement and anticipation as we awaited the big game. It was terrible to lose on Thanksgiving week-end. Good thing his teams didn't do that very often!
As for what our families are up to today...My mom is actually making Thanksgiving dinner and inviting some folks who don't have such an easy life to be with them. I'm so happy that my mom and dad are at a place where they feel up to opening up their home again. Doug's family will be gathered at one of his sister's houses and we'll think of that large group and wish we could be in on the laughter and fun. I wish I could watch the parade although admittedly last time we were home for Thanksgiving the number of commercials cut down on the enjoyability factor. The shopping frenzy that unfolds is both amusing and sickening. Admittedly, I like to go online to my favorite stores and check out what's for sale. I only "window" shop however!
Complicating matters is my health. I'm still not doing real well. After feeling a bit more normal Tuesday and Wednesday this week, today has been another set back. I just cannot get back to full health. It is discouraging and it contributes to my longings.
On the bright side however, we have dear friends coming to visit this weekend. It will be great to see them and they've even promised to take care of me if I'm still not feeling well. And the truth of the matter is that I have so much to be thankful for. My mom is doing well and my folks are enjoying life. Things with Doug's family are good. I have an amazing husband who truly cares for me and has shown that he's willing to fulfill the vows of In sickness and In health even when the sickness part goes on and on. I have a church that is loving and fulfilling. The advent season is upon us and that gives me a chance to consider with even greater intention what it means that Jesus came down to earth to dwell among us. And his dwelling presence remains with us. So in spite of whatever it is I'm feeling today, I am fundamentally thankful for the many blessings with which my life overflows.
So, I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and in the words of a British friend who is in America for her first Thanksgiving..."And even if you're somewhere where they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, why not still take a few minutes today to stop and be thankful." I am thankful and I want to live my life in gratitude for the many gifts I feel that God bestows upon me. May it be so for you as well.