Top 5 Things I’m Thankful for on my First Ever Thanksgiving Away from Home

Today where I am, in England, it’s a Thursday. But back home in America, it’s the best day of November: Thanksgiving. Celebrating Thanksgiving  is a big deal in my family, and is the first major holiday I’ll be missing out on during my year abroad. My solution: invite all my new European friends for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a 12 lb turkey, my aunt’s famous stuffing, and my favorite apple pie. I’m glad to say that with the help of my housemate Steffi, I pulled it off.

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While Thanksgiving is pretty much a gateway for Christmas and a good excuse to eat an absurd amount of food without judgement, the deeper meaning of the holiday still takes precedence: it’s a day for being thankful for what you have. This year more than ever I definitely have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s some of the most important.

1. Family.  Cliche, but Thanksgiving is all about family. Being apart from mine for the first time during the holidays made me realize how good of one I’ve got. I’m lucky enough to still have all four of my amazing grandparents in my life. I’ve got wonderful aunts and uncles who love me as if I was their own child and have gone above and beyond for me my whole life. I have a dad who takes the time to check in on me, and who watched the World Series with me via texting. I have a mom whose years of sacrifice and unrelenting love have led me to where I am right now. I have a sister who is my best friend in this world. And I have the worlds cutest dog (even if he can’t be bothered to interact with me on FaceTime).

2. Old friends. Thankful to have friends that make a 4,000 mile distance feel small. Lucky to have friends who allow me to feel as though I’m involved in their lives even from across the ocean. How blessed am I to have friends that make the idea of leaving this place and returning to life as normal not seem so grim?

3. New friends. To the people who crammed into my tiny kitchen to share today with me, thank you. I’m more appreciative to each of you than you know. Thank you for making this cheddar-obsessed island feel like home these past two months. I’m so happy to have met all of you. 

4. Experiences and opportunities. While it was hard being away from my family today, when I step back and look at the extraordinary opportunity I’ve been given, one year of holidays away seems like a small price to pay. With things like a meet and greet in London with my favorite band on Tuesday, a trip to Rome next weekend, and Christmas in Holland on the horizon, it sometimes overwhelms and humbles me that this is my life right now. I don’t want to take a single second of it for granted.

5. American groceries. You never know how good you have it until you have to try to make homestyle Mac and cheese without anything but cheddar, have to have boring dinner rolls instead of Pillsbury Crescents, and have to eliminate any recipe options involving canned pumpkin because the few cans that make their way to the “American” section at Tesco go faster than discounted TVs at Walmart on Black Friday. I’ll be back for you soon, King’s Hawaiian Rolls and Jay’s BBQ chips.

So while today was a bit of a tough day being away from home, I’m so happy that I got to bring a little taste of my family’s Thanksgiving traditions to England to share with my new friends. I hope you had a lovely day full of good food and fun with family (and that you wore your stretchiest pants). Now go get some leftover pie and the sales papers and gear up for Black Friday shopping! See you soon for a recap of Rome.


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