Happy Thanksgiving from Germany.

2015 was the third time I've celebrated this American holiday abroad, and each year it's a different adventure. In 2011, my first year in Spain, I cooked a whole turkey in a crock pot, and managed to prepare the rest of the dishes with only a stove and a toaster oven at my disposal! I invited my roommates and some friends to our apartment for a big meal followed by pie and a movie. Last year in Alcalá we shared a meal with about ten people at Al and Elizabeth's house, and I was responsible for two pumpkin chiffon pies. This year in Munich, we had a small, quiet Thanksgiving in our itty-bitty apartment. I took a day off of language classes and prepared my Mom's delicious cornbread dressing (I found white cornmeal in a Brazilian grocery store the other day!), turkey breast, homemade cranberry sauce, and my Mimi's yummy pumpkin chiffon pie. 

We missed family. We missed the Thanksgiving atmosphere. It's strange to be celebrating a holiday that's so important in your world when everyone around you is doing their regular thing...you know, since the pilgrims went to America, not Germany. 

But we were thankful for good food, a break from the everyday schedule, and each other. We were thankful for Whatsapp to share photos of the day, and Facetime to call family. Oh, and we were definitely grateful for a post-meal nap.

Tonight the Christmas markets open here in Munich, and I cannot wait get in the Christmas spirit! The holiday markets in Spain weren't exactly impressive, and aren't anything like (what I hear) German markets are like. A holiday of giving thanks immediately followed by all this pre-Christmas cheer is something I can get on board with! 

Fresh cranberries make the best cranberry sauce. This was my first time making it from scratch, and it won't be the last!

Fresh cranberries make the best cranberry sauce. This was my first time making it from scratch, and it won't be the last!

My Mom's cornbread dressing is really, really good.

My Mom's cornbread dressing is really, really good.

Small turkey breast fillets...that weren't so good. Not awful, just tough. Oh well. Turkey's not my favorite anyway.

Small turkey breast fillets...that weren't so good. Not awful, just tough. Oh well. Turkey's not my favorite anyway.

Just for this special day, we expanded our small table to the slightly-less-small size. :)

Just for this special day, we expanded our small table to the slightly-less-small size. :)

A turkey named Jesús.

The day before Thanksgiving involved some scrambling here. Of course, Thanksgiving isn't a holiday in Spain, but there are plenty of Americans living abroad who are buying every can of pumpkin pie filling, every bag of marshmallows, and all of the French Fried Onions that they can get their hands on. As for us, our only "need" was pumpkin pie filling, which arrived at 8:30 PM the night before Thanksgiving on a truck at Taste of America (an American foods store for homesick Americans who have some money to spend...which is why we only stop in there for an emergency; six 15 ounce cans of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin constituted such an emergency). We had a few hours to make pumpkin chiffon pies for teachers and our Thanksgiving dinner the following day. My Mimi's recipe never fails to be a hit. 

Wednesday evening I also had my first tutoring class with a new family in our neighborhood. What better way to spread American Thanksgiving cheer than to make hand turkeys? These six- and four-year-old cousins loved it. I asked them to name their turkeys, and the little girl promptly replied, "Se llama Jesús." We're working on the English. 

A turkey named Jesús.

A turkey named Jesús.

It felt strange to be going to work on Thanksgiving Day, when I would normally be vegging out in my pjs, watching the Macy's Day Parade. However, I made the best of it and geared up for making even more hand turkeys and talking about what Thanksgiving is all about with my second graders. I tried the "What are YOU thankful for?" discussion, but it seemed a little abstract in English for my seven-year-old friends. Ah, well. We talked about turkey and stuffing and said "gobble, gobble, gobble!" and they just loved coloring their birds blue and purple (?) and gluing feathers on.

Yup, I  did  write out what U.S.A. stands for, because some of these kids still think I'm from the U.K.

Yup, I did write out what U.S.A. stands for, because some of these kids still think I'm from the U.K.

I came home to take a quick nap ("Tea-chair! Tea-chair! Look at my pavo!" said fifty-plus times will wear on you after a while), bake some pumpkin cream cheese muffins, and then we were off to spend Thanksgiving at an American family's home in Alcalá. We had a magnificent feast, with ten people's contributions that included turkey, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, a traditional Colombian bread (one guest was Colombian), mashed potatoes, mulled wine, and pumpkin chiffon pies, pumpkin muffins, and chocolate cake. Afterwards, one guest got out her guitar and we sat around and sang some beautiful songs, like the one below. The evening was a little bit of heaven here on earth.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! / ¡Oh, tu fidelidad!
Great is Thy faithfulness! / ¡Oh, tu fidelidad!
Morning by morning new mercies I see / Cada momento la veo en mí
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided / Nada me falta, pues todo provees
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me! / ¡Grande, Señor, es tu fidelidad!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

I am thankful to be in Spain, for new friends, for an opportunity to see more of this world. I am thankful for "strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow," all the blessings that are mine in Christ both now and forevermore. Amen.