- ...if you have become obsessed with trying to find a turkey to cook for the big holiday meal. Buying a whole turkey is not a common thing here! The local grocery stores have looked at us like we are complete aliens when we have gone in and asked if there was a way to purchase a whole turkey. “Why?! It’s not Christmas yet. We don’t sell whole turkeys until Christmas.” Okay… I get that Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here and it’s not customary to cook an entire turkey at any time other than Christmas Eve, but I would really like a turkey for Thanksgiving. Not only for us, but for the three North American families who will be celebrating together. By the way… forget a spiral cut honey baked ham! That’s not happening, either!
- ...if you cheer and throw your hands in the air when you finally find a corner butcher who has a whole turkey! First, he thought we were nuts. Then he thought it was cute. Then he realized we were from the States, and he was excited for us. Then he gave us sausage as a bonus gift for his ‘new Texas friends’. I think the butcher is my new best friend.
- ...if you have to create your ingredients for the big meal from scratch… like, EVERYTHING! Today, we made homemade brown sugar. There is no such thing as a can of pumpkin - we’ll have get a real pumpkin or fake it with sweet potatoes. Forget the refrigerated pie crust. No box of Jiffy cornbread here. No can of chicken broth. Nope… no Velveeta, no Cool Whip, no Karo syrup, etc. Cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas meals requires lots of planning and preparation!
- ...if you have to juggle school schedules with your meal plans and holiday festivities (because this holiday is NOT a day off here).
We love that we can be surrounded by friends and new family here. Last year, Thanksgiving in Texas was a juggling act of trying to juggle people’s schedules and football games and work. In the end, only the three of us and our mothers were able to have dinner together. This year, 16 of our friends and family gathered in our home in Spain for dinner. We celebrated with a family from Puerto Rico (USA), a family from Mexico/Texas, Billy’s mom, and a family from Spain. The Spain family are commonly referred to as “Sarah’s Spanish Family”, as they adopted her (and us) years ago and they are never not involved with us. If a day or two goes by without contact, they check in on us. If Sarah has a cold, they want to take her to the doctor or bring her a home remedy. In fact, each of these families is so special to us and is so closely connected to us that we consider them family. So, when I say that we celebrated with friends and family, I mean it in every sense of the word! I’m thankful for these great people.
There are several things that I’m especially thankful for during the holidays in Spain:
- I’m thankful for the street scene in Spain for the holidays. It is so wonderful to stroll down the sidewalks, bundled up in big coats and blanket scarves and boots, with the warm glow of the Christmas lights.
- I’m thankful for chestnuts! Remember the Christmas song, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”? Well, I grew up singing that song and NEVER in my life saw a chestnut actually roasting on an open fire. Until now! Chestnuts being roasted on a fire are common on every street corner.
- I’m thankful for a warm fire and lots of blankets. Okay, to be honest, the warm fire is a major necessity and not just an nice little winter touch. We do not have heat in our home. Each night, we reach lows of freezing and below. It is a rare morning that our yard is not covered with frost. Scraping ice from the windshield is a daily occurrence. So, the fire is important!
- And I’m thankful for candles! We have family Advent candles on our dining room table. Every day at lunch time - because lunch is the daily big family meal in Spain - we gather to read an advent reading and share a moment together and light the candle for the day. It’s a nice moment in the middle of the day where we can be together, focus in, and feel grounded and centered. Somehow, the stress just melts away in that moment.
Pray for us as we spend another holiday season away from Texas. It won’t be easy. It never is. We miss our boys. We miss our mothers / brothers / sisters / friends more than ever during these times. And thank God that He has surrounded us with friends and family here in Spain that help us to have new traditions and feel loved and connected. We are home for the holidays, because home is both in Texas, and in Spain - home is where you have relationship roots, home is where you are loved!
~ Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas from
Laurie, Billy, and Sarah