My first Thanksgiving away from home wasn’t as sad as I thought it would be. While it was simply a normal day here in Vienna-the kids went to school, parents to work, me to my daily routine-I still tried to make it a special day.

The kids and I spent the afternoon drawing Christmas trees, Churches, Mary and Joseph; all Christmas all the time until the actual holiday. We listened to American Christmas music, something with which the kids are enthralled, and I drew at least four different Christmas trees. (the kids like their drawings to be just like mine-exactly, so I have to draw mine, then the same on the other sheets of paper) Younger me would be shocked with the fact others want their drawings to look like mine. I was a horrible drawer. If we had actual grades in Montessori school I’m sure I would have failed. Or been recommended for “needs improvement.” I always hated that saying. I find it a passive aggressive way of saying “you suck.”

Anyway, I wanted to share this holiday with my family here in Vienna. Beni, the oldest, has been learning about American culture in his English lessons at school and has such an inquisitive mind. It was fun to answer his questions and tell him all about this holiday in the days leading up to the celebration back home. So, cooking Thanksgiving dinner was the natural way to bring the holiday into an Austrian home.

Before you ask, no. There was no Turkey. I can’t imagine actually cooking a turkey by myself. That would have been a disaster. No, we had a pork roast instead, which I still made myself. (I’m not going to lie, I am pretty impressed with myself) I also made mashed potatoes; green beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper; and an apple pastryThanksgiving Dinner. The last one was a bit improvised as I had no time to make pie crusts from scratch and was desperately looking throughout the grocery store for pre-made crusts. Alas, they were not available, but I used pastry dough instead and experimented.

Nici is really excited to eat!

Nici is really excited to eat!

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It took a while to cook everything and a lot of thought about when to cook what and for how long to have everything on the table hot and ready at once. Also, I took intermittent breaks in order to draw more Christmas-themed objects the kids desperately wanted to color.

Regardless, it was an incredible experience. It truly felt like a holiday for me, even if my family was so far away. The Christmas music playing, the joyful voices of excitement at a particular song or drawing, the sizzling smells from the kitchen (that I made. Ha!), and the beauty and deliciousness of the final product culminated in  a rather festive Thanksgiving in a country foreign to the ideas of what the day celebrates.

It was an evening full of laughter, sharing of cultures, and eating delicious food (everyone’s favorite was the Apple pastry-we all had multiple servings with ice cream-what a hit!). A successful Thanksgiving in my book. This year I am thankful for my family’s wonderful support back home, the chance to explore, and a wonderful second family in my favorite city in the world. Thank you, all, for a wonderful beginning to the holiday season.


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