When you live abroad, people always ask: “but don’t you miss home, don’t you miss your family?”. And the answer is always the same: do I miss the United States? Not particularly. But do I miss the comfort of ‘home’ and the warmth that comes with that word? yes. And of course I miss my family….what kind of question is that?! Spending Thanksgiving in Madrid has me thinking about this!
As for the comfort of home, I don’t miss it so much in the summer when life is crazy with pools and beaches and working and traveling. But in the colder months, when the idea of ‘home’ holds a lot of meaning- a warm place where you feel comfortable to just be and are surrounded by people and love- that’s when I miss ‘home’ more.
This week is Thanksgiving and while, yes, it’s a holiday that basically focuses on stuffing yourself to the brim until you are sure you will absolutely never eat again, it’s also a holiday that makes me think of my family padding around in socks and jeans and comfy sweaters, and the house is warm, and it smells like good food, and we all get to catch up on each other’s lives- the lives of people who are pretty much strangers for the other 364 days of the year.
To Spaniards, it seems like their idea of Thanksgiving is when we just EAT, and it is, but they also don’t realize that many American families are like shattered glass..spread out ALL over the place. Thanksgiving and funerals and weddings [and Christmas, if you do that] are what bring people together. I can count those on one hand.
My whole life, I have loved Thanksgiving WEEK. Not just the actual day. The weekend before is light and airy, because everyone knows a 3-day week is coming, and then for those three days leading up to Thanksgiving, the mood is cheery and school days were filled with crafts and movies and seeing who was going to the high school rival football game. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is like the best high school reunion of your life, with everyone home from college and wherever life has taken them. We all spread out, but it seems like people always come back for that one day. The local bars are full of your old classmates and old stereotypes and rankings have disappeared. Honestly, I think the night before Thanksgiving is the strangest thing, but it’s great.
And then THANKSGIVING. The best food, the best company, and just comfort…until you have to unbutton your pants. But seriously, it’s one day of the year that people travel FAR AND WIDE to be with their families, but here I am- typing this from Madrid, getting ready to head to school for what will be a normal day. Except it’s not all that normal because I currently have 6 pies surrounding my computer and another in the oven #help. I guess it’s my way of spreading the Thanksgiving love around Madrid.
So do I miss home during Thanksgiving? Yes. I have this deep-seeded fear (and knowledge) that one day, Thanksgiving at my cousins, with my parents and brother won’t be an option. And maybe I will look back and regret all of this time living abroad, doing….what?
This is my third year spending Thanksgiving in Madrid and I think emotionally, it’s the most difficult. Rationally, it’s a day with a lot of food, but it feels strange to be here and not there. I am craving the warmth of ‘home’, and shivering in my mildly heated room while I type this.
With that all being said, I am so very grateful to be here in Spain and to have every single opportunity that has presented itself. Living this life is like living in some sort of dream (a dream with never ending pie) and for that reason, I am so lucky. So instead of focusing on what I don’t have here with me today, I am going to focus on what I do have and what I am thankful for.
5 Things I am Truly Thankful This Year – Thanksgiving 2017
(in no particular order)
- My apartment in Madrid that does feel like home away from home. It works well, is clean, well-lit, has nice roommates, and a landlord that responds to our messages and requests. And neighbors that have never complained about our noise. And one has a wireless network I can use when ours fails!
- All of the work opportunities that have come my way this year! From Withlocals, to Vipkid, to launching my websites – Bruja’s Bakery. I have sold 60 pies this year!
- Luis- for his love and support in everything that I do. Spending Thanksgiving in Madrid is not easy, but when you have someone there who really cares, it makes it much easier. He did just send me a good morning message that says “Happy Thanksgiving! We can go out to dinner or whatever…”. Lovely, haha. Also, I am thankful for his mom who routinely invites me over for lunch, worries about me when I am sick, and sends me home with food.
- The small things during my day that make me smile: the guy that is at the metro station, playing his keyboard every single morning. And he plays songs you would know! When a student says “hola profe!” or is extremely excited to work with me, or when they like an activity I’ve prepared. When I time a metro connection perfectly. When I get to walk, listening to a podcast. And more…
- My family. This is obvious, but I feel so lucky to have such a loving, caring, and supportive family who doesn’t miss me enough to make me feel guilty for living in another country (kidding….). Love you all.
Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you may be!