It seems that racking up holidays abroad is part of the nomadic lifestyle of an aid worker. This is my sixth Thanksgiving abroad. They have varied tremendously in where in the world I was, including Finland, Ghana, Macedonia, Afghanistan, and now the Philippines. I realize as well that my husband and I have now spent more Thanksgivings apart since being married than together (4 versus 3); I was looking forward to breaking even.
My first Thanksgiving abroad was twenty years ago, and one of my more memorable. I was 16 years old and a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Finland. I spent the day exploring Helsinki and ended up at a cousin of my host family who happened to be in Parliament. I found myself in a quiet part of Parliament left to read a book while waiting to head to my home for the night. The family decided that in honor of the American holiday we would go to McDonald’s to celebrate. Having boycotted McDonald’s as a teen, I found it ironic to be spending Thanksgiving there.
My first Thanksgiving married was spent working in Macedonia. I got out of work on the late side and arrived at a restaurant that I had sought out excited to enjoy dinner. They were full. No chance. I pleaded. They had little patience for my party of one. They ended up finding a random tiny side table and set it up nicely with table cloth and fine cutlery right in front of the fire. It was perfect. The dessert was a roasted pear with nuts and honey inside and cream on top. I can still remember how perfect it was.
This year my most memorable aspect was my morning meditation. I’ve been doing another round a 21 day meditation challenge with Deepak Chopra and Oprah. Given travels and such I’m a few days behind the assigned meditation, but found it to be perfect that today’s meditation was on gratitude. Thus I started my day thinking of all I am thankful for. This includes all of the opportunities that I’ve been giving to do the incredible work that I do, even if that takes me away for the occasional holiday.