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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving in the United States of America

It's Thanksgiving eve here in the United States. It feels like a whole new feeling to be preparing for this day on US soil. It's been kind of weird for me to dial into the season given the perpetual sunshine, palm trees and general lack of autumnal clues! But earlier this week Doug's mom and sister arrived from snowy Minnesota and I finally went to the store to begin some serious food shopping. We were also treated to a super fun visit from a young woman who grew up in our church in Stockholm who was out to spend Thanksgiving in Los Angeles. It was so delightful to see her as her family had always been part of our Thanksgiving celebrations in Sweden and we also spent the last several Christmas Eves with them as well. And while I am excited about a new tradition in California, admittedly, my thoughts have wandered to the wonderful Thanksgivings we shared around our table in Sweden. We always included Americans but also other nationalities for whom this traditional American meal was a first. We won't have any first timers around our table this year but it is a gift to share it with family.
Last year in London we shared in the worship service at St. Paul's cathedral, a very memorable experience and we know that our friends still in London will enjoy once again. We shared the rest of a day with a good buddy pastoring in Vienna...we skipped the Turkey day cooking and went to a pub instead! Good memories of Thanksgivings past. And now we're on the eve of making memories of Thanksgiving present.
It has been very exciting for me to be on US soil as I've prepared for the meal this year. After years of substituting ingredients for things that were unavailable in Sweden, paying as much per kilo for my turkey as I paid for the entire turkey this year, scrounging to find the biggest turkey and hoping to find one that weighed close to 10 pounds, it has been a culinary nirvana to have every amazing ingredient and then some at my fingertips! I was amazed that even before Halloween, Thanksgiving food began to appear in the stores, (not to mention the plethora of Christmas decorations!) and it dawned on me that I would not have to struggle once to find what I wanted! Stuffing mixes, pie fillings, pie crusts, corn bread, pecans, pumpkin, canned cranberry, fresh cranberry, frozen cranberry, and turkeys of all shapes and sizes. Because we are so few around our table this year, I was actually looking for the smallest turkey in the store this time around and 14 pounds was the most petite! There will be leftovers, turkey pot pie and turkey chili!
Added delights include plenty of space in my refrigerator, an oven big enough to get the turkey and other sides in all at the same time, watching the parade in the morning instead of having to wait until the afternoon and the best part of all...enjoying the day as a holiday with the rest of the nation instead of creating my own little holiday in a world in which very few others were celebrating!
In addition to the coma inducing food that we will indulge in, we are set to eat on the patio with the top temperature rising to 23C/73F. We anticipate a delightful afternoon together.
Of course, above and beyond the food and the store, this wonderful American holiday is a day to stop and give thanks for all of the things in our lives that bring joy and meaning and beauty. I'm so thankful for my sweet husband, for friends around the world, for family spread near and far and for the beautiful home that we are establishing together here in California. Too many things to humble and blessed to enjoy the life that I do. I hope that even if life is hard right now, you can find those things which bring you joy and for which you are very thankful.Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.