Last year I wrote a post about the meaning of Thanksgiving to me, and about those things for which I am thankful. After that, I tremendously enjoyed cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for my friends here in Ankara, and wrote about that too!
This year, I am really missing Thanksgiving at home. Since it is not a holiday here, everyone is working and few are actually celebrating it on Thursday. In fact, I have a business meeting schedule on Thursday afternoon. Even so, I am going to try and make the best of it.
Back in the States, I would usually on Wednesday, finish any shopping that needed to be done. Then in the evening, I would help mom prep veggies, make the stuffing and get it in the bird, bake at least 8 pumpkin pies, and do a cleanup. (When I do holiday dinners at my home, I even go as far as ironing linens and setting the table the night before.) Then, I go out with my friends.
In the States, Thanksgiving is a homecoming. So all of one’s old grade school and high school friends are usually back home for the holiday. So it’s a great night to go out and tie one on! This year, I have to work. I am teaching a class until 8ish. But I am thinking about getting together with an American friend, and hopefully some Turkish friends for a glass of wine or two. We will see how everyone feels . . .
On Thursday, I usually get up very early, like before dawn, to help Mom get her 30+ pound bird into the oven. Then we fidget all day long in the kitchen. In between, I take breaks to watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Philly has one too. But even when I lived minutes from the parade route, I preferred Macy’s. There’s nothing like the giant Underdog balloon. (Kids don’t even know Underdog anymore! Hummmph!)
At noon, I always take a break to turn on the radio and listen to THE Thanksgiving story, Arlo Guthrie’s Thansgiving Day Massacre, better known as Alice’s Restaurant. You better believe I have a copy of it and will be listening to it here!
Then I keep prepping and cooking, all the while cutting one-inch slices of pumpkin pie and swallowing them whole! We set the tables, using two very large tables that spread from the dining room into the living room.
We have visitors throughout the day – some stay for dinner and some have to go their in-laws. But it’s always nice to see them!
Finally, we get to enjoy the best meal of the year with at least 20 family members. Turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, sweet potato pie, mashed potatoes, asparagus, green salad, and pumkin pie!
This year, I am sharing Thanksgiving with my Ankara bestie, my kanka, my little sister, Jules – my American best friend in Turkey. We are cooking a small dinner together on Saturday. Our plan is to shop together on Thursday, prep together at my house on Friday night, cook together at her place on Saturday, and have dinner Saturday night at her house. Dinner will be late as I am teaching another class that day. Jules has invited one of her American friends, and I have invited my American “big sister” friend. So it will be small – just Turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts with chestnuts, creamed onions, salad, and pumpkin and apple pies!
While prepping, we will listen to music, tell our stories, and drink lots of wine. Just like old times at home. Sadly, we won’t be able to invite all of the guests that we had last year. Last year, we cooked separately and both threw huge parties. This year, it will be more intimate, a smaller meal, and more family-like. But we will miss our dear friends.
After the meal, we usually kick back with conversation, a very competitive game of Scrabble, and watch the Christmas Story – again. I’m sure we will do something similar this year.
We will be thinking about all of you this holiday! We will miss you. We will miss the night out, the parade, and the family. We are thankful for all of you, for your love and constant support. It’s not always easy being away from home. So I am thankful to all of my friends and family at home. But I am especially thankful for my family and friends here in Ankara, who make Ankara my home: the Kaymak and Kocer families, especially Anne, Baba, and Koray, Jules, Bulent, & Leyla, the ladies in my English conversation class, Esra, Beyza & Steve, Steve & Filiz, Necati, Semiha, and all of my friends at the Carsi Pastane, the owner of the bakkal, the lawyers I have met here, all of my students, and the Ankara expat connection.
And this year, I am especially thankful that my sister Mary is still with us. It was a difficult year – and there is a lot to be thankful for – but I am dedicating this one to Mary, my sister, my friend, and my sometimes advisor! I love you girl!
Oh yeah, and there are always appetizers! How did I forget that? Bring on the fancy cheese! (and more wine please!)