When we lived in CA, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays of the year. Yes, I loved Halloween too, but Thanksgiving was more meaningful. Our tradition was to invite any friend or acquaintance who did not have others to share the day with to come for dinner. We always ate mid-day to have a longer evening to relax, share, and sometimes play cards or just talk. This also gave us time to digest from a hearty meal, so we could attack the leftovers one more time. The meal always started with pumpkin soup and it was served in a beautiful pumpkin shaped tureen that my friend Brian had made for me years ago. Even those that do not like pumpkin, have tried and loved my soup. Then the meal would consist of all of the usual fixings, but I always added my grandmother’s stuffed mushrooms as an added side dish. Living here in Budapest, our holidays are different. I had to teach on Thanksgiving since it is not a holiday here. As I walked home, I forgot to stop wondering why people were not rushing home for their last minute preparations as I was. We too continue to enjoy the holiday in a modified way. One cannot buy whole turkeys here unless you order them ahead of time, but our oven is so small, it would be impossible to cook a complete dinner with the turkey stealing all of the room. We bought a healthy sized turkey breast instead. The conveniences that I was used to at home, do not exist here. I had to make stuffing from scratch. It turned out better than what I had made in the States, surprisingly. We also had green beans and parsnips. Ron found sweet potatoes at a store at the end of the red metro. I made fresh mashed potatoes, squash pudding, and by chance, we found dried cranberries in the supermarket. Ron boiled them in water and a bit of orange juice, then cut up bits of orange rind. It was a delicious relish. We almost did not miss the turkey gravy and the fresh baked rolls. The turkey comes boneless and skinless, so there was no juice to try to make a gravy. Continuing with our tradition, we invited a new friend that Ron made in his Art Museum Docent Training Program. Mark’s partner works here for a US company, as an accountant. Chris had to fly to London for work on Wednesday, so Mark was alone and came to share our dinner. We had a great time, though I kept thinking of all of the special serving bowls that would decorate the table at home, sitting in storage now. The food and company more than made up for any feeling of loss. Mark found Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and brought that for dessert. No pumpkin pie since there are no cooking pumpkins in Hungary and as close as squash is, it is not close enough for me. Then to make my own evaporated milk, was beyond my time limits. Latter that evening, some of the Fulbrighters came over for wine and chatter. We had a eight others here, making for a festive evening. This certainly made it feel like a holiday and a special occasion. Counting all that I am thankful for, I have to start with Ron and his willingness to stand by my side living here. Living here, regardless of the trials at times, is well worth it and I am thankful for the ability to do so. I love this city. As well, I adore my students and want the best for them. Sometimes they think I am too demanding on them, but I want to make them the best they can be. When they share with me the little opportunity they have to get time and attention from other staff, I am thankful I have the time to give for those that want it. I am especially thankful for those students who feel a need or desire to take me under their wing and be my translator, my helper, my teaching assistant, and my friend. I am thankful for the Fulbrighters that we meet each year and those who stay friends long after they have left. I am thankful for our friends who we have left behind long ago, but still love us enough to stay in touch and send up little gifts from time to time. I am thankful for all who read my blog. It makes me feel like my voice is heard beyond those whose faces I know.