What is wrong with this picture? It is close to 10am, our flight for Cyprus is today, but I have yet to get into the shower. Finally, after years of travel, we have a flight that does not leave at some ungodly hour. Past trips have departed as early as 5:30am, which basically doesn’t even qualify as a night’s sleep the day before. We need to be at the airport by 4am the earliest.
It is with great gratitude this flight doesn’t leave until 5:30pm. The taxi is arranged for a 3pm pick-up, getting us to the airport an unusual 2 hours early. For the first time in years, we are initially flying outside the Schengen Zone, so there will be Passport Control to navigate and adding to our airport time.
Starting with Thanksgiving 2002, we have celebrated the holiday with 6-8 others here in our home. We scrambled around to find a whole turkey; they are as rare as fur on a chicken. For a few years, we had an in with a US Embassy employee who would take pity on us and get one at their commissary. When they were transferred, we were relegated to rolling the dice and wishing for good fortune. It worked, but the effort was similar to an extreme sports competition.
Next was finding cranberries, since ready-made sauce was totally out of the question. When we first discovered them in 2005 at the great market, they were averaging $6 for a half pound. Gritting our teeth, we paid the price. It was similar to getting a bandage ripped off.
Never to be seen was pumpkin, at least the kind we find in cans in the US. Then again, it was not until 2010 that real pumpkins started sparsely appearing in large produce markets, but were even more readily available at florist shops, where they were sold as decoration. There are specialty grocery stores where you have to barter your kidney for a can of pumpkin or any other ingredient to make the holiday dinner seem most traditional. However, often we were fortunate with B and B guests who would generously be our mule for pumpkin, cranberries, or whatever other element was needed.
It is always at this time of year that we remember to give thanks for American ways which are infiltrating this part of Europe at last. Being an expat is wonderful most of the time, but it seems that changes in weather spark that autumn nostalgic feeling for the back home festive décor and traditions.
When we lived in the US, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for all of our friends who did not have families close by to celebrate the holiday. Seven years of Thanksgiving feasts were spread over our dining room table in California. In 2001, we had already left the US, so we celebrated Thanksgiving at the Hard Rock Restaurant in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Nevertheless, from 2002 through 2013, we were the focal point for other Americans and some Hungarians who wished to share our tradition.
Ron suggested we bypass the holiday hunter/gather stress this year and vacation away. Cyprus is on our list of the 10 smallest countries in Europe, which we are checking off. The airfare was cheap enough, less than $130 each. Off we go…until Saturday.