Thanksgiving is my favorite holidays – better than Christmas. It’s a time of homecoming. On other holidays, people often take advantage of the vacation to go away, ski the Alps, enjoy the water at the beaches, tour a new and wonderful city. But at Thanksgiving, people go home. It’s a wonderful time of year with the crisp Fall air. The night before Thanksgiving, one can doubtless run into old school friends in any of the local hometown hotspots. Thanksgiving day is spent enjoying a high school football game, watching a parade, picking pollyanna names from a hat, preparing the meal, and spending hours in the company of one’s own family.
It has become a tradition in my family in more recent years, as we sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table, to take turns telling what we are thankful for from the past year. A couple of weeks ago, I sent an email out to the Ankara expat community asking them to participate in this blog post. I asked them what they were thankful for from an expat point of view. Here are the responses:
As for my gratitude for this first year as an expat in Ankara: I am thankful for my comfort zone being challenged. I am thankful for new friends from Turkey and from other countries, as I am being taught about other cultures, views and how we all can be brought together in harmony. I am thankful to see a country that has strengths where the U.S has weaknesses, and to see the strengths my country has that we take for granted. I am thankful for my health and ability to eat food anytime I want. Thankful for my hard-working husband that shows me the world and gives me the moon. –Stacy
I am thankful for the pseudo family that I have here in Ankara. Even though I’ve been here for such a short time, I feel connected to my community and welcomed. When you are away from home during holiday time, having people to share that time and love with is so important, so thanks Ankara expat family!! -Angela
And one friend wrote this:
I keep trying to think of thansgiving-thanks stories for you but unfortunately haven’t come up with anything which isn’t either boringly generic or so over-personal I have no desire to share. I lack balance.
My friend’s note to me forced an idea. My own thoughts had also been very generic. But I disagree with my friend. What she wrote to me was in my mind very balanced. So I have decided to balance my own sharings and give you both my generic thanks and my very personal thoughts with you today.
I am thankful for the friends and family who encouraged me to move to Turkey, or who at least helped me to calm the fears of those who thought it was a bad idea. I’m thankful that my bosses at my old firm were understanding and allowed me to work through a period where my plans were indefinite, knowing all the time that I would be leaving soon. I am thankful for those who helped me prepare my house for sale (especially my sisters Amy, Patti, and Eileen) and pack up my 3-story house as well as to my realtor and friend Marc, who did an amazing job with the sale. I am thankful for one very good friend who called daily to make sure I hadn’t completely lost my mind.
I am thankful for the friends and family who call, write emails, and do what they can to keep in touch with me on a regular basis. Technology has enabled us to feel like just maybe, we aren’t so far away. And I am very thankful for Facebook! It’s amazing that I communicate with grade school, high school, and college friends as if it were just yesterday. I also love that I talk to my nieces and nephews on a daily basis through FB!
I am thankful for my new Ankara friends, most of whom I have met through writing this blog. The emails, coffees, and phone calls help me get through the day.
I am thankful for my Turkish family who accepted me as one of their own. My mother-in-law’s cousin introduces me to others as “our bride.” They don’t take the place of my own family, but they make Ankara a much warmer place to live.
I am thankful to Mark and Dan who gave me the opportunity to keep working from afar.
I am thankful for my friends and family who helped me through my pregnancy. It came as a huge surprise at 45 years of age. With it came a lot of fear. I am thankful for the women who befriended me here, shared their personal experiences of giving birth here, and supplied me with an unbelieveable amount of information. These women are Ankara expats who at the time, I had never met. I am eternally indebted to you for your kindness. And I am also thankful for my niece Chanel, who checked in on me every day while she was carrying her fourth child.
And I am thankful to the friends and family who held my hand through my miscarriage. My life had been changing so quickly with mostly happy things. So this came as a shocking blow. All of my in-laws came by or called, cooked for me, cleaned my house, cared for my personal needs, prayed for me and held my hand. My own family did as much as they could from home, calling, emailing, and praying. I am also thankful to my new friend Julia and her husband who came immediately when they heard the news, a freshly baked dessert in hand, because that’s what girlfriends do. And I am thankful for my nephew Rob and his wife Veronica, who made sure that I realized that my husband suffered this loss too and offered their support to him as well as me.
I am thankful for my brothers and sisters, all one hundred million or so of them. Year after year they continue to love me, no matter what, and become closer as friends than they are as siblings.
I am thankful for my sister Eileen, who is fighting an uphill battle against cancer. She is strong and courageous. She will overcome this, I have no doubt. I am also thankful for my brother Billy, who fought cancer last year and now proceeds to courageously live life, guiding his children (and me). I am thankful for my friends who offered their support during these times and especially to Suzie, who shared all the medical information she could.
I am thankful for having the world’s best mother. At 83, she was the one who seemed more understanding than anyone else about my wanting to move to Ankara. She put me first, before her own personal feelings. She is my daily inspiration. She skypes me every week and we talk several times a week. I am very thankful that she is not afraid of computers!
Finally, although this is truly first in my mind, heart and soul, I am thankful for my husband. He is my best friend. He takes good care of me, puts up with my nonsense, makes me laugh, and holds me when I cry. I thank him for introducing me to his wonderful homeland and family. And in Stacy’s words, he gives me the moon!
Oh yeah, one more thing, I’m thankful that the Turkish government hasn’t kicked me out of the country! I’m always watching my p’s and q’s.