Thanksgiving can be a surreal experience when you are living abroad. It is a holiday that takes years of conditioning – frantic, last minute grocery shopping on Wednesday, overeating on Thursday, Christmas shopping on Friday, and swearing you’ll never so much as look at another turkey or pumpkin pie again on Saturday. Over the years this settles into a comfortable, if slightly neurotic, routine. It can’t be an American holiday without an appropriate amount of neurosis, after all.
Obviously, Greeks don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, considering they are not a country founded by wayward pilgrims who saw the devil in nature and decided that razing, partitioning, and selling land was a good way to settle themselves in their new found freedom. I don’t know for sure, but I am fairly certain that no Greeks shared a thankful feast with aborigines they would systematically exploit and drive away, but that’s a different story altogether. Honestly, I’m not knocking Thanksgiving. I do think there is a lot of goodness in the core of the holiday, and any excuse to eat good food, make merry with friends and family, and be thankful for all you have is a good one.
My conditioned responses set in the Monday before Thanksgiving. I frantically make a grocery list, knowing that I should go to the store before Wednesday to avoid the insane rush of last minute shoppers. When I inevitably end up going to the store on Wednesday anyway (best laid plans, and all that) I stare incredulously at the near empty store.
“But, it’s on the day before Thanksgiving!!!” I cry out, exasperated.
People look at me curiously. Then it hits me. This is not
Thankfully, most of the people staring decide that I am just another crazy
Each year I keep thinking that maybe I’ll forget Thanksgiving, that I’ll wake up one day and realize that Thanksgiving had come and gone and I gave it nary a thought. But somehow that never happens. The Thanksgiving conditioning automatically kicks in as easily as my instinct for survival. Pavlov might be impressed. I figure one of two things can happen. After about thirty years of living abroad, I’ll lose the conditioning, or I’ll start cooking my own Thanksgiving dinners, thus reinforcing it. The improbable might become probable. It might snow in August on a Greek island. Greek politicians might stop being corrupt.
To all of you who are celebrating this thankful holiday, Happy Thanksgiving. To all of you who aren’t, perhaps you can take just a moment to think about all the things you are thankful for, and rejoice for a moment.