My First Thanksgiving home and What I’m Thankful for

In all the years I’ve been traveling and living overseas (or Stateside cities and towns that were quite a distance from Brooklyn), there were always some times that were harder than others to be so far from my family and my friends. I often found that when I was not feeling well – be it a simple cold or the flu – I felt quite homesick, but usually the most difficult times of all was the holidays.

This year will be my first Thanksgiving home since 2008 (when I had a tremendous time celebrating Thanksgiving Eve and accidentally drunk ate some of Thanksgiving day dinner), so to say I am excited is a mere understatement. I always found that Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July were the hardest holidays to be living overseas for; whereas everyone back home was off from work and celebrating, I’d be sitting in my office and working. It never felt right.

I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving here and there throughout the past five years away. In 2009, I was on a road trip with my friends through Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York, and Virginia, and I spent the holiday with a uni friend’s family. At the time, I’d no idea that would have been my last opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving home in the States for quite some time. If I had, I would have stayed put in Brooklyn.

The following year I was living in South Korea, where my friends and I ordered a catered Thanksgiving dinner to a friend’s apartment. (Many companies and restaurants abroad do cater to American ex-pats and/or American travelers in town by hosting or putting together dinners.) Because we lived in Korea, our apartments were not fully furnished (and we didn’t feel the need to spend money on furnishing them) and we ate our Thanksgiving dinner Korean-style: spreading our dinner out and sitting on the floor. The meal wasn’t remotely memorable: the stuffing was dry, we had no knife to carve the turkey, one of our friends was unintentionally (but so sweetly) dressed like a pilgrim, and we had some awful desserts that we continued to stuff our faces with despite how terrible they were. It was no matter; the most important part was that we had each other. Being away for the holidays is hard, but having as thorough of a groups of friends as I did there made it just another Korean memory to laugh about for years to come.



The following year, Molly and I were volunteering at an orphanage in India, and though we didn’t do anything in particular to celebrate, we were so happy. We had a simple meal of dahl baht and some roti, and we spent the afternoon playing with the kids. It was simple, it was sweet, and it made us grateful for our wonderful families that have supported and loved us from day one.

In 2012 my ex’s mom reached out to my stepmom for advice and for recipes to throw a Thanksgiving for me in Sydney. I remember coming home from work that day, feeling homesick and not expecting much of anything as we were leaving for a trip through Tasmania early the next morning. I got home to find the table was decorated with a fall theme and all things Thanksgiving-like. There was a turkey in the oven, there was stuffing, there were pies, and I tried my hardest not to cry. I remember my dad and stepmom told me they were so excited for me, they stayed up waiting for me to message them about it. In that moment, I felt so grateful and so loved, and it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

Last year, in 2013, I didn’t do much of anything to celebrate Thanksgiving. I tried to plan for and cook my own Thanksgiving (ha!) with some friends, but unfortunately my kitchen didn’t really allow for that kind of dinner. (It was basically suitable for making toast or eggs.) (I should also mention that I absolutely hated cooking at the time.) There were a few Thanksgiving dinners going on about town, so I got a feed with some friends and drank some (re: a tremendous amount of) wine and had fun without the fancy frills or excessive meal.

And this year, after more than five years of being away for Thanksgiving, I am finally home in Brooklyn. My family doesn’t do anything overly-extraordinary for Thanksgiving; we spend it with one another, we watch some American football, and we eat ourselves into the most delectable food coma ever that lasts for days.

I’ve a lot to be thankful for this year. I’m a healthy, 27-year-old who has seen the world. I’ve had a wealth of life and personal experiences —  both good, bad and ugly — that have gotten me to where I am today. I have a beautiful family, both immediate and extended, that has been to hell and back with one another, supported one another, and makes one another laugh each day. I have friends that have been by my side since I was in kindergarten and who love me like a sister.  Come to think of it, I have friends in countries all over the world, and that’s pretty awesome. I have a spectacularly beautiful niece whose smile absolutely lights up the world. I got a job within five days — five days! — of being home, and though I may complain about it at times, it allows me to getter a better idea of what I see myself doing professionally in the future (and it lets me have some good fun around New York).

That’s just for starters. My list of reasons to be grateful could truly go on and on. But most of all this year what I am most thankful for is the wisdom I’ve gained from y life experiences and the insight I’ve gained about myself, as it helps me to understand who I want to be and how I want to live my life.




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