Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving in Europe

Thanksgiving w/the Wildcats in Germany. What a feast! 2009.

  Spending Thanksgiving in Europe is always a strange thing. It's really the only major holiday I spend overseas that is not celebrated by my European 'hosts'.

  You wake up Thursday morning, knowing it's a very special day at home, where friends and family put their lives on pause, only to go on with your normal day-to-day routine in Europe.

  I've never had a feeling of missing out, or sadness on Thanksgiving. But when you're not around family and friends, you realize exactly what makes the holidays important.

  Thanksgiving is just like any other day, when you're not able to spend it with your loved ones. It's probably the day I think about home the most: what my family's doing, where they are, when they're getting ready to sit down for that special meal. There's nothing like Thanksgiving dinner with your family: the atmosphere, the company, the togetherness, and of course the food.

  The one thing you can try to duplicate is the food. I try to 'celebrate' Thanksgiving in Europe with a special meal whenever I can. Some years I have succeeded more than others.

Checking the turkey - tough work in the kitchen!
Scrambled Eggs for Dinner 
  My first Thanksgiving in Europe nine years ago surely wasn't one to phone home about. I remember having scrambled eggs as my Thanksgiving dinner in Como. Pathetic, I know. I've since stepped up my Turkey Day cooking game.

  I don't necessarily celebrate the food aspect of Thanksgiving every year. It depends on the people around me too. If there are other Americans I know nearby, or if there's a group that's excited about celebrating the American holiday with me, I'm happy to cook and have a wonderful meal with them. You can't exactly cook a turkey dinner for yourself (or I guess you can, but that's not something I would look forward to).

  To me, Thanksgiving is just as much about the people you are with as it is about the the food you are enjoying. 

Find Other Americans!
2 Germans, a Swede, and an American enjoying T'giving together!
  In years past, I've gone to an American-owned restaurant in Milano for some turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I've gone to an American's home with other teammates for a Thanksgiving dinner in Poland. There have been years when I don't do anything in particular too. Sometimes my schedule doesn't allow it, and sometimes there's no one else in town that share my excitement for stuffing themselves with tasty food.

My First Real Turkey Day Abroad
  The first time I cooked a full-fledged Thanksgiving dinner was when I was in Germany in 2009. We had a large group of Americans in Wolfenbüttel, so we wanted to do something special. My roommate, Steph, and I decided we would cook for everyone, our German teammates included. All in all, we had at least 13 people.

We had so much food, there was no where to actually EAT! - 2009
  Once our morning practice was over, we went home and spent the rest of the day in the kitchen. I had to use our other teammate, Jeza's oven because our stove wasn't big enough to handle all the food. It was stressful, and a ton of work, but it was also a great time. I loved how everyone enjoyed the food we worked so hard on, and it was one of my most-memorable Thanksgivings ever.

2012 Edition
  This year, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my friends V and Bruno here in Dunkerque. V and I went to college together at Colorado. She hadn't enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner since moving back home to France nine years ago. And Bruno had his first Thanksgiving ever. So I was excited to cook for them, and enjoy their company.

  Our dinner Wednesday night (couldn't fit it in on Thursday because I had practice!) consisted of turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and dressing. Not a huge Thanksgiving spread, but it did the trick!

Thanksgiving 2011 with V & Bruno in France.
  I've decided it's not Thanksgiving unless it's a little stressful. At some point during the day, I always have a little panic attack that we won't have any food to eat.

  In Europe, it's always difficult to find all of the ingredients you need at the store. Another issue is getting everything cooked in time using a kitchen/oven that is a little undersized (by American standards, anyway). But everything has always turned out great, I've just had to get a little creative at times!

Connect With Family
  Thanksgiving night this year was relatively the same for me as it would have been if I were home in Oregon. Thanks to the internet, that is. I got to talk to and see my family (some of them anyway) via Skype. And of course I watched a little football. That's the beauty of the internet: it's ability to make the world much smaller than it actually is.

Great company to go along with great food!
  Whether I celebrate with a turkey dinner or not, Thanksgiving is always the perfect time to really think about the things you are grateful for! The good health of family and friends is always at the top of my list. And also how lucky I am to have each of them (you!) in my life. And of course, I am so thankful to be able to continue to play basketball for a living, and have all the wonderful experiences I'm blessed with everyday.

  I try not to take any of it for granted.

  I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving! Now let the madness of the Holiday season begin!

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