If You’re Looking For A Holiday, You’ve Come To The Right Place
Here in the United States, we are already elbow-deep into the end of the year holiday spirit. Our Thanksgiving turkeys have been arriving in markets along with the caroling of bells.
Of course, if that’s not for you, I found a ton of other significant days celebrated worldwide just this week- if you’re looking for a holiday, just take your pick:
Sunday Nov 23 Sunday of the Dead Germany
Sunday Nov 23 St George’s Day Georgia
Sunday Nov 23 Labor Thanksgiving Day Japan
Sunday Nov 23 Rudolf Maister Day Slovenia
Monday Nov 24 National Sovereignty Day Argentina
Monday Nov 24 Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Martyrdom Day India
Monday Nov 24 Labor Thanksgiving Day observed Japan
Tuesday Nov 25 Statehood Day Bosnia and Herzegovina
Thursd Nov 27 Thanksgiving Day Puerto Rico
Thursd Nov 27 Thanksgiving Day United States
Thursd Nov 27 Aviation Day Venezuela
Friday Nov 28 Independence Day Albania
Friday Nov 28 Independence from Spain Panama
Friday Nov 28 Robert E Lee’s Birthday United States
Friday Nov 28 Presidents’ Day United States
Friday Nov 28 Lincoln’s Birthday/Lincoln’s Day United States
Friday Nov 28 Black Friday United States
Friday Nov 28 American Indian Heritage Day United States
Saturd Nov 29 Liberation Day Albania
Sunday Nov 30 First Sunday Advent Austria, Germany, United States
Sunday Nov 30 Independence Day Barbados
Sunday Nov 30 Bonifacio Day Philippines
Sunday Nov 30 St Andrew’s Day Romania
Sunday Nov 30 St Andrew’s Day United Kingdom
Wow! This is a very busy week. (Though to be quite honest I’m not sure where a few of those US holidays came from. I mean, we celebrate Presidents’ Day and Lincoln’s birthday in February, not November. And Robert E. Lee’s birthday? Nope, never heard of that one. I know who the man is but his birthday is not one we celebrate here that I am aware of.)
If you’re running short on things to celebrate and be thankful for, this list is a pretty good start, wherever you may be.
For me, however, as I pause to think of things to celebrate, what I am grateful and thankful for, at the top of my list are the people I care about most, family and friends, people like you that I share with and learn from each week. It’s pretty special to be connected like this, isn’t it?
Next, I think about the hardships we’ve each endured just to get to this place today. I think of those who aren’t here with us this year, my mom, my dad. It’s a time for reflecting.
Remembering With Joy
And then there are funny moments we’ve enjoyed together, like those from my mixed-up expat Thanksgiving in Baku (Enjoying What We Can, With Whom We Can).
… When our ambassador’s wife caught my kitty by herself on the table, happily licking a hole straight through the center of our new stick of butter (the one that cost me $6US). I didn’t know whether to be shocked or relieved when she said, “I’ll just cut that section out and it will be our secret…” (though, now it’s between us and all of you! But you won’t tell a soul now, will you?)
… Or trying to find any flat surface to make a table extension out of as more expats rang up saying they wanted to come over too. We used shelves from my kitchen cabinets, an old door set on two step stools and the night stands from my bedroom propped up on books to make them the right height. We eventually had about 2 dozen of us around that tabl…meal place! It was my favorite dinner ever. Hands down!
… We also had to contend with shortages, outages, confusion and mislabeling of products as we struggled to find the right combination of “almost and sorta-like” to make a familiar dinner to satisfy the home-cravings and the feelings of missing out.
Expat writer Debra Bruno, in an article for the Washington Post last year, put it this way, ”
“Crisco. I couldn’t find Crisco. But that wasn’t the only challenge in trying to put together a Thanksgiving feast in Beijing.
Expat Thanksgiving feels like both a patriotic duty and a stave against homesickness, and I’ve always risen to the occasion on this most American of holidays… I paid a shocking 331 yuan, or $54, for a turkey that barely reached 14 pounds. That’s far more than what American shoppers are paying.”
“I found canned cranberries (Ocean Spray, 19.90 RMB, or $3.27), Brussels sprouts, heavy cream, butter, green beans, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and marjoram, most of which is now dangerously crammed inside my small refrigerator, alongside a defrosting turkey and the stock I made for the gravy. A single enthusiastic tug on the fridge door could turn into an ugly mess.”
“As for the Crisco for the pie crust, I’ve spent the better part of the past three days traipsing around to three fancy markets and a half-dozen stalls in Sanyuanli, usually so reliable. As I wandered around, I kept showing storekeepers what I thought was the right translation for shortening: “su you,” defined as “shortening (type of fat used in cooking food).”
“Bu zhidao,” most of them said to me. Or “mei you.” I don’t understand, and I don’t have it.
Finally I encountered a man who spoke English. “Shortening?” I said. I showed him my translation.
“Oh,” he said. “Crisco!” “Yes!” I said. … “We don’t have it.”
It finished… we don’t have it. How many times I heard those same words!?
(After having so many of those conversations myself in Baku, all ending that same way, I began to be known as “the Queen of ‘It Finished Yesterday’ ” – so many were the requests that magically had just been sold to the customer before me…)
Does Perfect Mean Better?
But, you know, somehow, this year, though I can buy anything I need at a market that is not even 300 yards (meters) down the hill from us, without the struggle, the sense of overcoming, the feeling of accomplishment- all of us pitching in and contributing what we could find (bubble gum ice cream goes on that list!)- I somehow feel wistful for the “all for one, and one for all” sense of camaraderie, thankfulness and gratefulness for my expat brethren.
What is it about sharing life with a group of fellow travellers that makes you so much more appreciative of the small favors?
I think this year I may make our Thanksgiving dinner a little less perfect, and a lot more interesting. I think I will go find others to invite… and, if it has finished, maybe even find some bubble gum ice cream!