We all saw it coming… So here it is! How did this American girl handle her first Thanksgiving away from home?! The festivities started in Nájera when I shaped my lesson plans around Thanksgiving. Although it technically isn’t celebrated in Spain, some villages have different dates for Acción de Gracias, a day for giving thanks to God. With the older classes I did a brief run-through of the common traditions and then watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The accents of the characters were difficult for them to understand, so I would recommend pausing at major parts to explain what’s going on. They loved the idea of breaking the wish bone!
With with primero de infantíl through third grade, we watched a brief video on the traditional story of Thanksgiving, and then made the typical Native American headdresses out of paper. The kids loved it! True– they were all making the stereotypical “owowowowowow” sounds with their hands to their mouths, and I had to keep explaining that Indians were not just dancing around and truly helped the pilgrims. But they do know the difference between Indians the Native Americans and Indians as in people from India. So, don’t worry. And look how adorable they are!
On Thursday, we got together with about ten other auxiliars and had a little, traditional Thanksgiving dinner! Our contributions were macaroni and cheese and a “pumpkin” pie. Cooking these got off to a late start because I had to finish a private lesson, so it was a bit rushed. Making some American foods in Spain are not for the faint of heart. Persistence and flexibility are key!
For example, I started off the pie with my grandma’s pie crust recipe. Once I had the ball made and was ready to roll it out, I realized we had no wax paper! So I tried to roll it out on the foil, but it was sticking all over. I yelled to Jay for help, and he came up with the genius idea to cut large Ziploc bags and put the dough in between. It worked flawlessly. Improvisation saved the day, along with our empty wine bottle we used as a roller. Also keep in mind that the oven may be dysfunctional, which will cause your pie to take twice as long to cook than what the recipe dictates.
Dinner was great. Some of our friends pulled off making a whole turkey, green bean casserole, stuffing, and sweet potato soufflé… Delicious! We started off by toasting, them going around the table stating what we were thankful for. Classic. Which got me thinking of what I’m truly thankful for:
1. My family and friends who make an effort to seem close even at a distance
2. Having the courage to take a leap and take part in this experience
3. Access to education which opened the doors to so many opportunities
4. My boyfriend, Jay. I wish everyone was able to be with a person so genuine and loving.
5. The most basic parts of my life that some people spend their lives praying for but going without
I wish I was able to spend every day as I do on Thanksgiving, counting all of my blessings and remembering what an incredibly lucky, privileged person I am. Every day in Spain has been a learning experience and I truly believe it’s changing me for the better. When we were taking turns around the table talking at dinner, I noticed that whether American, British, Scottish, or Italian, we had all found something special and meaningful during this time of our lives here in Logroño. “Awwww!” The icing on the cake was being able to FaceTime with my family today at their different dinners. I missed seeing their faces! All in all I had a memorable Thanksgiving abroad.