Or, rather, what to do when you’re not!
For those who know me well, it’s not a secret that the hardest American holiday for me to miss while living overseas is Thanksgiving. In fact, it’s harder than all the other ones combined. And as testament to its still non-commercial value, it hasn’t yet hopped over The Pond.
Which is to say there could be a bit of a reprieve if I could pick a restaurant nearby and have some facsimile of the Thanksgiving feast. However, while I have seen hundreds of free-range chickens while out-n-about here in the Netherlands, I have never seen one turkey. I don’t think the Dutch grow them. Besides, if our microwave-sized oven is typical of most, no turkey would fit in it whole.
Dear Astrid has offered each year for us to drive to Amsterdam an hour away to eat the traditional meal at Hard Rock Café. Bless her. But it’s not the same, with the rest of the country working and my own family absent.
So, after resigning myself now for the third year in a row, I resort to the “second blessing”…the memories of years past with good family, good food, good fun and good…FOOTBALL.
Though I paid my dues and did my fair share, I was not one who ever gravitated to the kitchen over the holidays. In later years my mantra was “I’ll do the dishes if you cook!” You’d quicker see me in front of the TV with the men-folk, watching, if I was lucky, the grand finales of the college football season.
Now, skip back to when we were in Atlanta this past September. That’s when grandson Nicholas (my dancing partner) roped Astrid into getting the house rigged up for football action at the beginning of the season.
But here’s the thing….
We make up one heck of a football family! When 3 of the 4 colleges/universities represented are BIG ones, you’re really talking football business. There’s moi, a MICHIGAN grad (U of M, Go Blue). Amy, my firstborn, is a grad of Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL, not what you’d call a football school (said with a straight face). But she married a man who more than makes up for that as a SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (USC) grad. And son Mark graduated from GEORGIA. Three biggies and all from different conferences, so we can all be happy when each other wins.
Did I mention OREGON? Nope. That’s because it’s still a figment of Nicholas’ imagination right now. It’s HIS favorite football school because…he likes the colors (or so he told Astrid).
Now that you know the important details, you understand why it was hard to be away from the family right now. Did I mention good family, good food, good fun and good…FOOTBALL?
I always flip a switch, of course. The money I would spend on a feast I give to charity. And when I stopped to really think about it, I said to Astrid, “In spite of missing home for the holidays, look at how much I have here with you!” For one, we drove an hour away to Antwerp, Belgium, on Black Friday and spent an overnight there to see the city. How many in my family would have given anything to do that!
And besides, while last year Michigan finally beat Ohio State after a 7-year losing streak, sadly they lost 2 days ago in what must have been a nail-biter, 26-21.
Astrid says, “Sometimes you lose and sometimes you gain.”
And always you have the memories…the second blessings. I truly am thankful!