Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today is Thanksgiving in this big country that is the US of A.

The thing I might like best about living in America is how people here celebrate the holidays. Decorating and cooking and dressing up and ... well ... celebrating.

I grew up in a household with hardly any tradition. I don't know if it's due to my mom being a buddhist (though she only converted when I was 16 years old) or my mom growing up in my grandparents restaurant where I am sure they had to work on all the major holidays. What good is it that your mother (my grandmother) is a trained chef when she has to cook for 400 people that night and you are not one of those people.

So Christmas for us was usually frozen pizza. I liked pizza and my mom always said that on a special day you should just eat what you like and not what people tell you to eat. I remember one Christmas Eve we went to MacDonalds. A special treat since at that time the only MacDonalds was reachable by car and we didn't have a car. That year, my aunt drove us to the drive through and got us our Christmas meal. I had a quarter pounder and a chocolate milk shake.
I never had carp or goose for Christmas (or any other time) - which in Austria is a traditional Christmas meal.
We also didn't have a Christmas tree. My mom, a friend of the trees, literally (and yes, I know how to use that word, my mom speaks to flowers, she is literally a friend of the trees), didn't want us to kill a tree for Christmas. One Christmas when I was very little, we won a living Christmas tree in a flowerpot. That was the one year we had a Christmas tree.

So I think it is because of this lack of tradition that I grew up with, that I now crave it. This year I even put up Halloween decorations (we did have a Halloween party though).

I always hear people complain about how commercialized the holidays are. Oh my god, it's November and they are playing Christmas music in the stores! And they are already selling decorations!
I don't think this way. I think this way I get to enjoy the holidays a little bit longer. Ok, usually by the second week of December I am pretty sick of hearing "Last Christmas" but apart from that I am a happy camper when it comes to all things holidays.
It's a time where I start cooking and crafting and knitting and sewing and baking. Winter here (and pretty much every place I have lived) is dreary and depressing. Glitter and bright colors make it more enjoyable.

The Netherlands doesn't really do holiday celebrations. One reason is that they are celebrating "Sinterklaas" which is happening in early December instead of Christmas itself. Another reason is that they are just a lot more sober in general. I really missed seeing people decorate their houses. I missed seeing Christmas trees in windows (some people have them but a lot less people than in the US and Austria where almost everybody has a Christmas tree). There is this department store in the Netherlands called "De Bijenkorf" and I loved going there before Christmas because it was the only store that had made an effort with Christmas decorations.

Today is Thanksgiving and I am very thankful for so many things. I am thankful for my husband who is really the perfect person for me. I don't just love him. There is nobody in the world that I LIKE as much as him. If you have been together for almost six years and you still like being around each other and you miss each other even when the person is only gone of to work for the day, then you know that you are with the right person.
I am thankful that at this moment we are both employed and that we have enough money to live comfortably. We might have a TV that's 30 years old but we have a roof over our head and heating and we don't have to worry that we will lose all of this soon and that is more than a lot of people in this country can say right now.
I am thankful that both my husband and my parents are still alive and are not in a life threatening situation. I can't imagine anything worse than losing a loved one.
I am thankful for finally making big steps towards my dream career of being a photographer.

This year E and I will be spending Thanksgiving with just the two of us. We made enough food for 8 people but that is all part of the celebration. Cooking such a big meal together was fun and I am sure eating it will be too.

Enjoy the holidays, no matter which holidays you are celebrating! And when you get annoyed by the decorations and the music, think about February and how much you could use a little bit of the sparkle then.