My Second Thanksgiving in Turkey

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!

Shae & Aunt T, 2009

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.

My nephew Kevin, always happy to see me! 2009

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.

Patti is so good, she can make pies with her eyes closed! 2009

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.

Mom & Mary get their prep on! (Mom actually smiled for the next shot - but Mary did not!)

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!

My niece Cora with her nephews Anthony and Joey, they usually go to my sister's house for dinner
My nephew Rob and his daughter Aubrey - oh, he stays!

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!

Thanksgiving 2009 - the only year we did a buffet style and didn't set the table

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!

Mom & Dan getting ready to say grace before the meal 2009

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.

Marianne and Kelly find room to squeeze in with our friend Elizabeth

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.

After the Feast with nephews Erik, Joe, and Rob

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.

My brother-in-law and dear friend Joseph, always dressed for the occasion

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!

Amy tending to her other baby sister, Mary

Oh yeah, and there are always appetizers!  How did I forget that? Bring on the fancy cheese! (and more wine please!)

Thankful for the cheeses from DiBruno Bros, Philadelphia

13 thoughts on “My Second Thanksgiving in Turkey

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  1. We don’t have Thanksgiving in Blighty, of course. But I completely understand that there are times when we all get homesick. Happy Thanksgiving from Liam and I.

  2. I wish that I could come and visit again so that we could spend Thanksgiving together, its one of those few days I get to see my family. But, hopefully grandmom will see, this remember us and save us a whole spice cake for when we get back in December.

    1. Hey Kev, I will let you have the entire spice cake if she saves me a pie – any flavor! Now go find yourself an American family in Barcelona and invite yourself to dinner! Miss you and see you soon!

  3. I can feel your nostalgia, Terry. I think one of the hardest things here is the fact that everyone else around has no idea that it’s YOUR SPECİAL DAY and ordinary life continues swirling along. But on the other hand, it means that all the shops are open so if you forget anything, you can just nip out and get it ….
    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  4. happy holidays terry…i really do hope you’ll have a wonderful dinner on saturday-like the ones at home..

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, Terry. The Macy’s parade ended and I went to the kitchen to turn on XPN. Martine, Matt, Monica and Adam were in the dining room playing a game and when Alice’s Restaurant came on they closed the door! Glad you appreciate the song too!

  6. Thanks All! Like Claudia said, the strangest part is that no one around me seems to realize it’s a holiday! Luckily, there are alot of Americans in town, so we make it work.

    @Tony – do you deep fry the turkey in the South?! Hope you and the family had a great holiday!

    @Joe – what is wrong with kids these days? They don’t seem to know what’s good for them! The question is,what was Martine doing on the wrong side of the door?!!

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