Thanksgiving in Australia doesn’t exist, which is a pretty big drawback to living here. Just kidding. OR AM I.
I am a HUGE fan of Thanksgiving. Sometimes, I like it more than Christmas. It’s an entire weekend based around my favourite things: delicious home cooked food, family and friend hang times, lounging and napping, and autumn—and there’s no obligation for presents or non-denominational/non-offensive holiday greetings. Once you look past the whole “White People Tricking the Natives” thing, it’s a pretty harmless American holiday.
While I was preparing to move, I knew that October-January would be the hardest time to be away from my life back in the States. But I was surprised though, that my first Thanksgiving in Australia was a lot like my Thanksgivings in the States:
I went out on Wednesday night for Wendsgiving (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is notoriously the busiest bar night of the year, because more people travel home for Thanksgiving than any other holiday weekend, so there are mad reunions), and per Wendsgiving tradition, drank too much too fast and spent a good part of the night sick*. I did, however, have a fantastic night. Joel and I met up with a smattering of friends at a pub, and then travelled on to Almond Bar, which was probably very delicious, but I only remember eating beetroot and exclaiming how it was the first time I’d eaten beetroot and my life was forever changed**.
Additionally, per Thanksgiving tradition, I woke up on the day of to chilly weather (yay!), with a sore head and a sore realization that I didn’t do any food shopping. Womp womp. Joel has to work late on Thursday nights, and when I was unemployed, I decided that designing an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner for the two of us would be impractical, and maybe even suicidal given how hot the kitchen gets when the oven is on during the summer. Also, I haven’t been able to find any Thanksgiving staples in the grocery stores around me: canned French green beans, French fried onions, cream of mushroom soup, pumpkin pie filling, pie shells, crescent roll dough, a whole turkey. So hunting down the food would be an expensive feat. And there’s that lesser tidbit of “I have never hosted or cooked Thanksgiving dinner before.”
Normally, my lack of food planning or experience isn’t concerning. I typically just make the World’s Best Green Bean Casserole (totally true), no matter where I’m having Thanksgiving, and my mom volunteers to pick up the ingredients when she does her big Thanksgiving shop. However, I didn’t have my mom around this year to help my food bidding, and I didn’t have a big dinner to go to, so it was on me to make Thanksgiving happen. And as I combed the three grocery stores near my job, running out of time in the evening and desperate for a Thanksgiving style food and desert that I could make and enjoy without spending 4 hours of labor, my holiday flare died. I mean, I knew it’d be hard to miss sitting around and hanging out with my family, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to miss pumpkin pie. My chicken/vegetable/gravy mash suddenly didn’t seem good enough, like I failed Thanksgiving. And then it was just an ordinary Thursday night. I threw a box of shitty instant brownies into my basket and went home.
I got home, made the brownies, cleaned up, and started dinner, thinking of how I will plan differently next year, how this was just some collateral damage to living in a new country, etc. A short while later, Joel walked in, and he was beaming, excited for chicken mash, and singing nonsense and telling me what he was thankful for, and just being an awesome force in contrast to my pie-less grump. Like it always does, his good attitude overcame my bad attitude, and everything felt the way it should have–full and loved.
We ate our bowls of mash, and I thought that the night, while it did feel like a regular Thursday, was still really damn good. And I thought about how good it is to celebrate a holiday with my new family and new friends. And I considered my Poor American-style Thanksgiving dinner, our Betty Crocker dessert, and our glasses of water, and my holiday flare exploded. It didn’t look or taste or feel like Thanksgiving in the States, but I felt the gratitude. I felt the love, man. And that’s what the day is about.
So yes. Thanksgiving was lo-key and I had to work and it wasn’t snowing and there was no pumpkin pie, but it was still fantastic. This year has been huge, and I’m thankful that I am where I am. I’m thankful for Joel, for his patience and consideration. I’m thankful for my family and friends and how supportive they’ve been during my move. I’m thankful for technology that allows me to participate in holidays with my family (even if only through picture messages because they can’t figure out Skype 😉 ). I’m thankful for my new job and how much I love it. I’m thankful for meeting great new people. I’m thankful for sweat pants and public transportation and modern medicine. I’m thankful for the internet and for that thrift store Shaya took me to where you pay by the kilogram where I found the perfect chambray shirt I’ve been looking for for about a year. I’m thankful that I woke up with almost no hangover after getting so sick on Wednesday night.
There’s a lot of shit to be thankful for.
*I have never puked so much, so hard, and so violently all at once in my entire life. Not even when I was in my prime and killing bottles of wine and bourbon in the same night. This is 30.
**I don’t remember what it tasted like.