Living in England is an absolute dream come true! The castles, history, outdoor markets, the countryside, hiking...I could go on and on. The one thing England doesn't have are our families. That being said, this was our first holiday away from "home". We knew we would miss our traditional Texas Thanksgiving, but instead of wallowing in our sorrows, we decided to share our holiday with our adopted family here in the U.K. We happen to be very lucky expats, our best friends live one island over...(yay, Republic of Ireland). We have known Norm and Chelsea Dillon for over 10 years; we've been to university together, we were in each other's weddings, and my kids now refer to them as Uncle Norm and Aunt Bala (our 2-year-old has put his own spin on Aunt"Chelsea" ). We also invited my amazing British friend Vicki Frost. She knows ALL things American. In fact, I sincerely believe she was born on the wrong continent. She's constantly keeping me up to date on American pop culture and entertainment, so when I invited her to her very first Thanksgiving she was just about the happiest person I've ever met. Since the Dubitons and Dillons were hosting this
year's shindig, Thanksgiving 2016 was rechristened
It's a strange feeling to celebrate a holiday in a country that's not celebrating it with you. To everyone else in England, Thanksgiving is just another work day. There were no massive lines at the grocery store, no Thanksgiving decor for sale, no canned pumpkin (in fact, when I asked a store associate what aisle it was in she just had a huge laugh...really...am I asking something that ridiculous...I mean, c'mon!), no turkeys (we had to order ours weeks in advance because in England turkeys are primarily Christmas food), the kids had to go to school and be picked up all while we are trying to cook, snack, drink, and be the perfect hosts.
(Did you notice Vicki's shirt? (The lovely lady to the left.) It says "Leg Day"...get it?!?)
#DillitonThanksgiving didn't go without it's quirks though. We ordered a 14 lb. turkey to feed our crew, but then realized after the fact, that we have a refrigerator the size of a shoe box. So, where did we put it you ask? Why, the picnic cooler in the car of course! One thing you can always depend on in England in November, is it will be colder outside than in your fridge. Our turkey rode around with us for 2 days; we even named him...Lurkey the Turkey. And with one teeny, weeny oven and a kitchen that's smaller than my two car garage in the states, we somehow found a way to fit 5 adults and 2 kids in there...because let's be real...who doesn't head to the kitchen and meander on Thanksgiving for nibbles and drinks while waiting for the meal. No way could you keep this crew away from the good stuff.
Being an expat around the holidays is hard. We thought we'd have a little let down, maybe even a good, fat cry...but instead we felt overwhelmingly loved! My cousin, Dia Giordano, sent us a care package filled with cranberry sauce, pilgrim and Native American figurines, a Thanksgiving door wreath, turkey window stickers, and much more. My mom called the florist down the street and had flowers sent to us for the table centerpiece, the Dillons may just be an island away but they still made the effort to fly over to be with us. We received cards and jovial "Happy Thanksgiving!"'s from our English friends and neighbors. We got to video chat with our parents and friends back home. We honestly thought Thanksgiving was just going to be a slight bust, but in the end, I think this Thanksgiving was one of the best yet!
"Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."