Happy Thanksgiving to YOU! Happy Birthday to ME!

“We eat turkey. We eat turkey. Oh so good! Oh so good! Always on Thanksgiving. Always on Thanksgiving. Yum. Yum. Yum” – from “Thanksgiving Feast”

This week I’ve been teaching my Spanish students about American Thanksgiving: hand turkeys for the little kids, Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving and pilgrim bingo for the big kids. There are quite a few Thanksgiving songs for kids on YouTube and I use a few, here and there. One song is called “Thanksgiving Feast” and all my students love it. It’s basically a food parade of delicious gluttony: turkey, corn, and pumpkin pie. Although, cranberry sauce has been a point of confusion for some and describing what it is, a cranberry-flavored jelly that comes out of a can, I have to say sounds pretty gross.

The kids are amazed at the sheer amount of food. The only close comparison to our Thanksgiving is to a Christmas feast but with chicken instead of a fat turkey. They marvel at the extra holiday. “You get a holiday and then Christmas?” one girl said in class today.

Besides all the yummy food and short vacation from work or school, Thanksgiving is a day to enjoy with family and friends. A day to be grateful for a full belly and a few laughs with those special people, even if that means, enduring the time with those who are not so special, too. This year is the first year I’m not going to be home for the holidays. I’ve had 34 years of holidays and can miss one or two here and there. At least, that is what I keep telling myself.

This Thanksgiving is also my birthday and I have no plans. I don’t have any American friends or anyone special to spend this day with. This is mostly fine since Friday is my longest day with a full day of school and tutoring in the evening.

I have some regret over the lack of celebrations I’ve had in the past few years. I regret some of my behavior. I wish I could’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself. The reason I dislike celebrating my birthday is because it’s a reminder that I’ve gotten another year older and have nothing to show for it. It’s a narrow view; one born of self-loathing, and I regret all the time I wallowed when I should have danced. There is nothing that can be done about those missed opportunities but I remember how it felt to be so alone and paralyzed by my own mind. Even though I am alone here – I don’t feel the lows of the past. For the time being those days are gone and I am so grateful for my balanced mental health.

I’ve been in Spain for two months, now. Sometimes I catch myself amazed with my adopted country and its utter beauty. I’m never bored. Surely there is some sort of challenge or mishap that finds me each week. Not to mention that teaching and tutoring, even at 27 hours a week and a far cry from the typical American ideal of full time work, is completely exhausting – mostly fun but totally exhausting. My frustrations are down to a meager few. I’ve accepted the fact that I will have two extension cords across my kitchen floor in order to have WiFi and that I need thicker socks for this damp cold city. I have even learned to ignore the nagging paranoia when others speak Spanish around me. They are probably not talking about me. If they had something to say to me, I would have heard it directly, and not behind my back. If I’ve learned anything these past months its that Europeans are not shy.

The shit soup that I am so very used to is now more like a cup – the ever-shrinking cup of poo. One day I will not dine on feces at all. That’s the dream anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy this day and eat some delicious food for me!


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