Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just Any Other Day

It is very strange living in a country where there is really no understanding of the American Thanksgiving holiday.  Families gathering together to stuff themselves full of turkey, more carbohydrates than one can even count, and sweet desserts until their stomachs almost explode, is quite a foreign concept to most non-Americans. But Thursday here in Japan, is just like any other day. The kids will go to school. Matt will go to work. And I will go about with my normal routine.

I really thought my first holidays living overseas and being away from family would be the hardest. But I was wrong. Maybe it is because I have so many fun Thanksgiving memories with my family and it is one of my favorite holidays (how can a holiday that you eat until you vomit NOT be a favorite?), but I find this year just as hard, if not harder. With the time change in the States (Japan's time does not change), and now being 14 hours time difference, talking with my parents is more difficult. My brother just got engaged to an awesome girl who I can't wait to have as part of our family. I have six nieces and nephews who will be running crazy, high on sugar, who will be a whole year older when we come back for home leave. Holidays are meant to be spent with family, and it is hard when family is on the other side of the world.

So what we have to do is make our own family and own memories here. It seems Thanksgiving is something many of us Americans miss, so people make their own "Thanksgiving Dinners'. Last weekend we went to a big Thanksgiving meal out at a neighborhood where several CAT families live. Great company and great food always is a reason to smile. This Saturday I am attempting to host 3 other families for our own big Thanksgiving. I am extremely a wee bit nervous as I haven't made most of the items on my menu since living in Japan and I am cooking two turkeys.  Don't worry I already have Thai delivery on my phone's speed dial. 

The hard part about creating your own family in an expat life is most of the people are transient. Meaning the people you develop friendships with will most likely move on at some point in time, whether it be before or after you. And many times, you will never see these "family members" again as they may live on the opposite side of the world from you.

So for all of you spending this Thanksgiving with your family, say an extra "Thanksgiving blessing" for the opportunity you have to spend this year with them –– no matter how crazy or dysfunctional the day may be. There are so many people, whether it be living some distance from family, missing a loved one who may have passed, or have other reasons why they cannot be with their family, who wish they could be spending the day the same way.

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