Being a week behind everything has been the theme of my life lately. Blog ideas come up in hindsight of something rather than me having the time to look ahead and plan. My apologies. So for this week I thought I’d finally get with (or ahead of) the times and post a week in advance about a Thanksgiving abroad. This serves me doubly well as now I can take the holiday off and avoid seeming out of touch posting about Turkey Day a week late.
Last year I wrote about how my fellow Americans and I hosted Thanksgiving for a large group of exchange students studying together in Utrecht, Netherlands. What made my London Thanksgiving special three years later was not only did my flat of Americans invite our non-American friends over for a feast, but one of our guests was a girl who had her first Thanksgiving with me in Utrecht those few years prior.
I was so excited to find out my Utrecht friend, Ximena, was also in London. I wrote an email to my group of girlfriends from my time in the Netherlands, most likely about the Dutch bar and Dutch pancake house I had found in London and how my thoughts drifted to them. It was a great and pleasant shock to hear back from Ximena saying that she was also in London. Me being from the US and her from Mexico, who would have thought that both of us being back in Europe would reunite us? The first time we met up outside the Starbucks in Leicester Square, I was really early and she was really late. Nothing had changed.
As Thanksgiving approached, my flatmates and I decided to invite people over for the holiday. On the day, our group comprised of people from Ireland, England, France, Mexico, and the US. Unlike in the Netherlands where we had a number of long tables to fit together, we didn’t have a single table big enough in our Holloway flat. We ended up bringing all our chairs and benches into our front room to go along with our two sofas, and we pushed together two coffee tables to place the food on. Everyone cradled their full plates on their laps and set their glasses either on the coffee tables or on the floor if there was no room.
Gaiety abounded with tasty food, readily available alcohol, and great ambiance as some of us vied for the role of party DJ. We filled our guests up with turkey and gravy (probably the simplest and most delicious gravy I’ve ever had, a recipe I still use each year – thanks Meghan), mashed potatoes, rolls and vegetables. Wanting to make the day seem special, we bought gold paper plates, gold plastic serving trays, and fancy plastic wine goblets. Regardless of the budget, the sentiment of the holiday was felt and passed along to our friends.
I asked Ximena recently what her memories were from that day and how her Thanksgiving in London compared to Utrecht. Here’s what she had to say:
I think that the Thanksgiving dinner in Utrecht was very special, it was the first Thanksgiving I ever celebrated and it became a very special holiday to me (even though it is not celebrated in MX [Mexico]). I remember we were all crowded in a small apartment, all foreigners and a few Dutch, drinking a lot of beer and wine. I knew almost everyone there since the beginning of the semester and had a lot of fun.
But if I am not mistaken when we were in London the food was amazing! Also it was very special to me because I was going through a hard time missing my family, crazy cold weather, so being surrounded with people and warm food to celebrate Thanksgiving was very comforting. I got to meet your friends and enjoy a nice happy dinner.
I too will remember both of these special holiday feasts. Happy Thanksgiving!