24 November 2005

Thanksgiving Traditions

I have a couple more words for you about Thanksgiving. In the years after graduating and entering "the real world", I lived in Texas, and the weather stayed so hot that Thanksgiving snuck up on me and I almost missed it. Being from Iowa, I was used to Thanksgiving being a pretty chilly time of year. Heck, it was usually cold by Halloween!

The next year, a co-worker had their first baby right before Thanksgiving, and their kitchen was stuffed to the gills with Thanksgiving day food. They were getting out of the hospital the afternoon of Thanksgiving day, and a couple co-worker friends & I decided it would be a great gift for the new parents to cook up that meal for them so that it doesn't go to waste. Image three enginerds in a kitchen making a giant meal. I think I called my mom at least once for advice on the turkey... Anyway, it turned out great, and the proud new parents were so happy and thankful. Unfortunately several months later they had to move away, and I have since lost touch with them. But not a Thanksgiving goes by for me without remembering that wonderful day. And I still wonder about Steve and Rosann and their baby. If you guys happen to read this, drop me a line! I miss you!

The next comuple of Thanksgivings were uneventful. I lived too far away from family to visit, with Christmas barely a month away. I usually ended up going to Katz' Diner for my holiday dinner, since it was one of the few places actually open. ("Katz' Never Closes" was their motto) They always had a nice Thanksgiving special...

Then something happened that rocked my Thanksgiving world. The first Thanksgiving after I started dating Jeannette ended up being a major landmark in the story of my life. She found tickets for $250 per person to Amsterdam -- if we flew on Thanksgiving day. We scooped them up and prepared for our first trip togeher. By that time I knew that Jeannette was something special, and decided that this trip would be the perfect time to propose to her. The first several days of the trip was agony for me, since I was carrying this engagement ring, nervous about her answer (though I was very certain it would be yes), and just a bit concerned about going to countries where I didn't know a single word of the native language. I had been to France many years ago, and I was "prepared" by 4 years of French lessons in Jr. High & High School, but this was different. I guess I also felt intimiated by "international traveler" Jeannette. She had been to every country in Europe except Portugul, or something. Was I going to be a complete "American Idiot" in Europe? Looking back at some of my high school escapaes in France, I was even more worried. (Maybe some day I will tell you about that, too).

Well, it turned out OK. I didn't lose the ring. She said yes. She didn't lose the ring. Her German family didn't disapprove. I even managed to ask where the bathroom was, though in a way that implied I needed a shower. I learned that I was a pretty good navigator on those windy European roads, as long as Jeannette was driving and we were both not too uptight about mistakes or, even, where we were going. Oh, and Thanksgiving dinner was at Jeannette's parents' German restaurant. Almost an eat-and-run, because we had just a few hours to get to Minneapolis and catch our plane.

So, that turned out to be the beginning of a Thanksgiving tradition of sorts. The next year for Thanksgiving we were in Egypt, on our Honeymoon. Thanksgiving dinner that year was at a very nice Indian restaurant in Cairo. Multi-cultrural, huh? The year after that, I was in Finland on a business trip for Thanksgiving, and Jeannette joined me. Thanksging dinner was moose and beetroot hash. I wanted bear, but it was a bit spendy. Tip: Finland is cold at the end of November. And it gets dark early.

The next year, we were in Italy, and our Thanksgiving dinner was swordfish in a beautiful Italian restaurant in Paestum, where some beautiful Greek temples are standing.

The year after that, we were with family, which was the first time in a long time. Sure, it wasn't some crazy trip to an exotic destination, but it was a trip, and we got to do and see some wonderful stuff. Part of the reason was because my brother would shortly embark on a several month tour of South America. So it was an exotic destination milestone for someone, just not me.

Then we moved to Germany, and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, we were barely moved in, we had no kitchen so making a dinner was out of the question. So we went to the Weihnachtsmarkt in Heilbronn. Thanksgiving ended up being pickled herring sandwiches and glühwein (hot, spiced wine).

So, that's a long way of saying that Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays, and thought it is not celebrated here in Germany, it is still something I look forward to.

Who knows what will happen this year, but I am sure it will be very exciting. If the last 6 years is any indication, it will be memorable.


At Friday, 25 November, 2005 , Anonymous Clair said...

Go to the weinachtsmarkt in Bad Wimpfen if you haven't been there yet. It's smaller than Heilbronn, but I always felt that it was more 'special'


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