I’m excited to join the masses tomorrow hitting the road to go visit friends and family for Thanksgiving. However, though I’m feeling the burn of the 9-5 grind and am seriously ready for the time off, the ads everywhere for black friday deals (I forgot about this awful phenomenon) and the traffic we’ll inevitably encounter on our way south to LA are both just some of the ways that this Thanksgiving makes me nostalgic for Thanksgivings past.
There’s nothing quite like a Peace Corps Thanksgiving. I don’t know what it was about killing and gutting our own turkey, huddling around space heaters with 200 leke wine and blankets, scouring shelves of the “big” grocery stores in Tirana for ingredients, using every dish in the house because the water was off until midnight and we had to save it in case someone needed to flush, explaining Dita e Falenderimeve to countless colleagues, sleeping two or three to a couch, playing American football and being followed around by curious schoolgirls on the field, dressing up like pilgrims and indians, and splurging for a taxi just because it’s the holidays that suddenly feels more patriotic and truly Thanksgiving than any “tradition” I’ve had here in the US.
I think you’ve never really truly experienced Thanksgiving until you go abroad with a group of other Americans. The extra effort required to celebrate makes it that much more special and the hardships of the day-to-day as a PCV make such a celebration truly live up to its name.
At this moment, pondering my plans for the upcoming weekend, I miss the camaraderie of a Peace Corps Thanksgiving. The energy we put in to get together and uphold/make new/share our own individual traditions was inspiring and a bonding experience like few I’ve had before or since. Plus, the turkey was the best I’ve ever had (thank you, Brea!).
I’m thankful that this year I get to share my first major holiday back in the States with two of my Peace Corps friends. I miss sharing it with my own family, but being with this second “family” will let me relive a bit of my experience abroad and celebrate old and new traditions all over again. And, we don’t have to kill the turkey :)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!