Perks of (Our) Thanksgiving Abroad

22 November 2018
So we’ve now had our third Thanksgiving overseas and, over the past week, we’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing about our Thanksgiving celebrations on American soil. We missed extended family visiting from all over the country, late night board games, constantly bumping into people in the kitchen, catching up with stories and laughter, and eating a variety of dishes lovingly made by those we’ve known forever. Both our families even got caught in a blizzard in Kansas City this year! It would have been nice to be snowed in, baking cookies, and prepping our hearts and homes for the advent and Christmas seasons. And while it is really something special to celebrate with other Americans in our country of origin, we came up with a few perks of celebrating Thanksgiving abroad! In random order… 🙂
Friendsgiving!
We had so much fun inviting friends over and sharing one of our favorite holidays. Thanksgiving has always been huge in my family; one year in Kansas City we had 70 people! While this year’s event was a more intimate gathering at 13, we really enjoyed sharing what the holiday is really about. We didn’t whitewash the history for our guests and you won’t find puritan hats and indian feathers here at our house, but we were able to discuss the story of white settlers arriving to a new land and encountering indigenous peoples and what that must have been like. We each shared what we’re thankful for (the best part, really) and I just want to say how thankful I am for each person who came and ate with us!
Borrowing from a Friend’s Garden
I’m grateful to have friends in our neighborhood who are willing to share! I rode my bike to two different friends’ houses, one who shared rosemary sprigs (for the stuffing) and the other who let us borrow springform pans (for the cheesecake). One perk of celebrating on the southern hemisphere is that it’s springtime and nice enough for neighbours to have beautiful gardens growing, and the weather’s nice enough for me to ride my bike over for sharing!
Shops Aren’t Closed
It’s not a national holiday here so no one has the day off work. While this made our dinner start a bit later than normal (we waited for friends to arrive home from work), we were able to run to the shops last minute and grab a few things we’d missed on our first (and second) supermarket run(s)!
Homemade Pistachio Pudding
Speaking of supermarkets, we were able to find most of the usually hard-to-find-abroad ingredients like pumpkin, cranberries, and marshmallows, but one ingredient remained elusive…pistachio pudding mix. John’s family always has watergate salad at their Thanksgiving meal, you know the green stuff with fruit, cool whip, and marshmallows? Usually it’s made with Jell-O Pistachio Pudding mix but we couldn’t find any. This led to John making pistachio pudding from scratch, he literally shelled and ground his own pistachios! The pudding was delicious by itself, but we mixed most of it with homemade whipped cream, fruit and marshmallows for a less-sweet but super delicious watergate salad. A new (more involved) tradition I think!
An Opportunity to Practice Scruffy Hospitality
We’ve always enjoyed having people over to our house, but we’re not fancy hosts. Don’t be surprised if you have to get your own glass of water when you’re invited over here! For Thanksgiving this year we set up two big tables in our living room and, while it probably would’ve looked nice with tablecloths, we don’t have any! So our table was graced with crayon marks, mismatched plates and cutlery, different sizes of jars for drinks, paper towels instead of cloth napkins, stuffed animals all in a row, and the “save your forks!” announcement when we got out the desserts. Having friends over is more important than making sure the house looks perfect before they arrive.
We have so much to be thankful for, and here’s to next year’s feast!
Blessings <3

Thanks for Giving

Happy Thanksgiving from Northern Ireland! After all our time spent out of the United States, yesterday was the first holiday we spent away from extended family. I guess we always just planned our travels around the holidays.

After some deliberation, I decided to make a dinner of all our favorite Thanksgiving staples, and tweaked the recipes to make them more healthful. There’s no way I’m going to spend two days preparing foods only to feel like crap for the next few days! We invited some friends over and shared a roast chicken (Turkey is hard to find and quite expensive!), gravy, cornbread casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad (we actually used currants… no cranberries until Christmastime!), stuffing, sweet potato casserole, apple pie, and pecan pie cookies. Everything turned out pretty well and I’m proud of John and me for pulling off an entire Thanksgiving meal ourselves.

thanksgiving2015Traditionally, this day is so focused on the preparation and eating of food. I am not complaining about that… I love to eat nutritious foods! I love celebrating by spending time in the kitchen with loved ones. This year looked different from years past, but the idea was the same. It’s also a great day to really focus on what we are thankful for.

I am so thankful for my family (near and far). I am thankful for fast friendships that have turned into familial ones. And I’m thankful for an abundance of food on my table.

We have been the recipients of so much generosity these past two years. Our fundraising period and our time abroad has shown great witness to the wonderful love of God’s people. There is no way I could ever say “thank you” enough to those who have shown so much kindness, hospitality, and sacrifice for our family. Our church families (past and present) have given up their time, their finances, and their resources to support us this year. On this Thanksgiving 2015, I want to say THANK YOU for giving! I know it sounds cheesy, but we really are so grateful. We are thankful for you.

Peace, love, and cranberry (currant) salad.

<3