A Season of giving thanks – Thanksgiving spent Stateside


Apologies for the delay in posting; I went home for Thanksgiving. I haven’t been home in a year! It was so magical to see my family and spend time with them.

But first, a Thanksgiving backstory. I hate the Thanksgiving holiday. Like loathe it. I have had Thanksgivings that range from “meh” to “lonely” to “disappointing” to “heartbreaking.” Very few were “great.” Overall, I have spent my married adult life dreading this holiday that holds a religious-cult-like place in many Americans’ lives.

When I decided I wanted to go home for Thanksgiving, I asked my family permission. I knew they would be a little concerned about the Grinch coming from across the world to ruin their holiday. I promised to be joyful and triumphant and I was allowed to partake.

For me, this year was different. It was the first time I felt the full meaning of what it was to be Thankful. I have so much to appreciate in my life. But most all, being with the people that complete me. I was present not because I was obliged to be, but because I wanted to be. In the past, the formula that worked best was to start liquoring me up early and keep me away from the preparations. My husband has ALWAYS made the turkey (and is damn skilled at it!), my daughters divide the rest of the dishes. The roles didn’t change this year, but I didn’t need to be liquored up. I was there fully by choice. It was by far the best Thanksgiving ever for me!

I was back in Portland for three and half weeks. I was helping with painting, and cleaning, and cooking Italian meals for my daughter and her husband. I have been deemed a full-fledged Italian mom (despite being a Costa Rica-American). It was perfect.

It was when I left the house that I felt like I was in a foreign-familiar land. I became very aware of US-cultural elements that I hadn’t really noticed before.

  • The cars/trucks are really big! And why do people feel they need these huge beasts? 
  • The roads are also huge.
  • There were SO MANY sales. I’m not a shopper but all of the Black Friday sales (and the ease that exists to return your purchases) makes shopping easy. Too easy. I needed (and I do mean needed) a few things which are less expensive in the States, so I took advantage of this time. And, I didn’t buy anything I didn’t actually need (except for some very cool workout lifestyle pants at Nike; and I got an employee discount).
  • Bus drivers are nicer.
  • Wine is ridiculously more expensive!
  • Cashiers are really chatty (almost nosey)
  • People don’t listen; they just think that know what you’re trying to say. (and, I do this too).
  • Small talk is definitely prevalent in US culture, and it’s annoying and seems (is) very insincere.

I have expressed my frustration at some very Italian behaviours that test my last nerve; each culture has elements that are super cool and elements that suck. It’s always interesting to me when I become aware of another behaviour I hadn’t really noticed before. But that is why travel is so rich; we don’t know our life is a particular way until we move out of it and then see it from a fresh perspective. I think the key is to try to see the new culture, and your own culture, with curiosity and not judgement.

Not to sound too cliché but I am blessed to be where I am, seeing and experiencing what I am, and have a family that supports it 100%. I have everything to be thankful for!

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