This year is the first year since I've moved here that I have not hosted a meal for Thanksgiving.
My first year here, I made a lovely dinner for Joern's parents, cousin Alex and his family, and Joern's grandma. According to my mother-in-law, this was my most successful Thanksgiving ever.
Over the years, I guess my dinners became more and more popular, and my Thanksgiving morphed into a holiday get-together with Americans, Germans, and well, friends from all over the world. My last dinner was two years ago, and we ended up with 30 people, and at least 35 pounds of meat, 15 different sides, 3 pies, two cakes, cookies, and oreo truffles. Although everything was delicious and the party incredible, I think I over-did it.
Then came last year. Between April and December, I spent two months in Germany, the rest of the time was home, and believe me, I was not partying it up.
This year, life is returning to a new normal, life has obviously changed a bit. Every thought we have is about the house. We decided that the stress of another HUGE holiday party wasn't worth it, especially with the stress of the house.
So, here I sit on Thanksgiving night. I have lost the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, lost the day to gather with my family, and now, even lost (only temporarily,) the party with the friends who have become my family here. This year, I am finding Thanksgiving particularly tough. Amazing that its been 8 years since I've had a Thanksgiving at home, and all of a sudden, I am finding it really hard.
Despite the longing to be home, I took the time today to think about all the things I am thankful for. It is long, but here's a go:
-I am thankful for my incredibly loving, kind, and supportive husband. I know that people may think I am biased, but I really do have the best husband in the world!
-I am thankful for my dad's health. There were a few whoppers this year, but he's come through. I am so thankful for that because my dad is also a wonderful guy, and I love him so very much.
-I am thankful for my aunt and my wonderful cousins, Katie and Elizabeth. I am thankful that over the years, we have grown much closer. I can't imagine a life without these three wonderful women!
-I am thankful for growing closer with my step-mother again, and my sister. They're cooky, but they're also mine, and I love them.
-I am thankful for the many wonderful memories of my mom. I am glad that I've been able to hold on to the good memories, and that the more difficult ones are fuzzy. I miss my mom more than I thought possible, but when I think back on the good times, I also find incredible comfort and peace.
-I am thankful for my amazing friends. Some friends are old friends, like Erica and Monica, who I've been friends with for almost 20 years now. Even more incredible, are friends like Emily and Nadia, who I've known since I was 5. It is so wonderful when people come back into your life. I am thankful for the support my friends provide me. My friends I've made here in Germany are incredible as well, like Mandy and Doug, Julia, Carol, Tori, Ashley, Emily, Lelia, and Marcel. They have become my family here, we share our experiences and go through the ups and downs of life abroad together. Even the ones who have moved away now have left a huge impact on my life, and for this, I will be forever thankful.
-I am thankful for the few incredible ladies at work who keep me sane, and have become wonderful friends. Iris, Prisca, Adele, Priscilla, Carola, Stefanie, and Maxine. I know that I can always rely on these girls to pull me up when everything is spinning crazy.
-I am thankful that I was able to become closer to a few other wonderful people at work. Last year, despite its difficulties, I was also able to actually talk with more people in our school, and form relationships with them. Although it has been tough this year to find the time and ability to keep up these relationships, they are still there. It is comforting.
-I am thankful for our kids this year. They are thankful for cake, and dolphins, and muffins, and their mommies. They're right.
-I am thankful for the opportunity to live in Germany. Although I have my issues with it sometimes, overall, I'm very happy. There are days when I need to pinch myself to realize that I'm not dreaming, I acutally live in Germany, and take weekend trips to Italy, Switzerland, and Paris.
-I am thankful for my car. 10 years ago, I never would have believed that I would now be the proud owner of an X5. Yes, this is materialistic, but we are dedicated car-lovers.
-I am thankful for my little apartment. Yes it is small, but it is really perfect. In a perfect world, I would move our apartment into our new house, that way all the memories that these walls have witnessed could come with us.
-I am thankful for Enbrel. I am thankful for my wonderful doctor who wouldn't give up with my arthritis, and who is just such a great guy. I am also thankful for the German healthcare system, that allows me to get Enbrel because I need it, no questions asked, and I don't need to shell out tons in copays to get it.
-I am thankful for my many memories of home, my photographs, and my tokens of home that help me to feel connected to a place that is 4000 miles away.
-I am thankful for the house that is in the plans right now. I am thankful to my in-laws for giving us land, and saving us some money.
-I am thankful for every day that I have, and every day I have to share with Joern.
-I am thankful for the future that lies ahead. I am so excited to see what will happen in our life.
We will be going to a staff Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night. Even though it won't replace home, or our annual bash, it will be an opportunity to celebrate all those reasons for being thankful.