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Friday, November 28, 2014

A Very Happy Thanksgiving

I kept up my tradition of creating my own holiday in Stockholm by taking Thursday off and spending the day focused on Thanksgiving. This is the one day of the year when being in sync with what's happening in the US means a lot to me. So while it's a normal work day and we can't eat until evening, it's well worth the effort to have Thanksgiving dinner on the actual Thanksgiving day! That this will be our last celebrated in Stockholm perhaps made the whole occasion that much special. While I will miss the memorable gatherings we have shared around our dining room table, I won't miss worrying about finding all of the ingredients to make the meal in the way I like it! Fortunately a friend went to the US in October so brought back a cache of goodies including corn bread mix from Trader Joe's, canned cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, and pumpkin pie filling. I farmed out the pies but supplied the pumpkin! I also won't miss paying a staggering $4.00 a pound for my turkey! I did dig through the very small freezer compartment at my local grocery store to find the biggest one...4.6 kilos or just tipping in at 10 pounds! Small as it was, it was tasty in the end!
I had a blast decorating the table this year. A friend and one of the guests invited for dinner had receive the center cloth from her mom and it provided the base inspiration for all that followed. I was very happy how it all turned out and it proved to be a beautiful setting for a memorable meal.
Around our table this year we had a family from India (joke was that we had real Indians at our Thanksgiving!) who had never experienced the American Thanksgiving tradition or food before, a woman from Ghana, a Swiss/American couple and one of their kids, and one other American along with me and Doug. The gathered group are all quite close to one another having shared in each other's lives in significant and heartfelt ways through the years.
The food was delicious, if I say so myself! My roasted sweet potatoes in a maple/cayenne glaze were a big hit. In the end, we had plenty of food and even a lot of leftovers!
In keeping with the Thankfulness theme, as people came in, each drew a name. Later in the evening, we had the Thanksgiving round where we each shared one thing that we were thankful for about the person whose name we had drawn. It was a special time, filled with laughter and tears. There was an abiding sense of family around our table that night. We finished off the evening while watching an incredible video of Ed Dobson, a pastor in the US whose journey is now laced with his struggle with ALS. See his story here.  At last, over pies, we enjoyed our annual Thanksgiving day quiz.
I was tired when my Thanksgiving day ended but full, content and overflowing with joy. I missed my folks throughout the day. I missed talking to my mom about the food and showing her the table. The gravy always gave me angst and I must say, my mom would be proud of how I've now mastered it! I I missed talking to my dad about the food and football. But there was certain comfort in knowing that my dad wasn't having to struggle through another holiday season without my mom.
Our church family has been just that...family. The heartfelt sentiment expressed around that table that night was one of deep connection and appreciation for all who shared in our tradition together.
I will miss my family at Immanuel International as we transition back to the US in January. But the depth of thanks I feel for having shared these years with them will never fade. I guess that makes me the most thankful of all.