Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Today is an odd day to be in Germany. At home my family is preparing to eat Thanksgiving dinner, students have a half-week vacation, and stores are full-to-bursting with turkeys, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and canned pumpkin. I can definitely find potatoes here in Germany but the rest of it is hard to come by, especially the gathering of family.

I'm fortunate enough to go home for Christmas, and I only have four weeks until my flight to the US, but that doesn't make Thanksgiving away from home any easier. There is something to be said for the food and the stomach pains after consuming it all, but Thanksgiving is about friends and family more than anything, and most of them aren't here.

So I feel a little sad today. But, happily, mostly I feel thankful - 'tis the season, after all - for what I have here. Therefore, a list:

1. I'm thankful for friends and neighbors, with whom I am going to have a little Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. I'm not alone here, and that feels really good.
2. I'm thankful for my job and colleagues, many of whom not only asked after my emotional health with being away from home for this holiday, but have made my time in Germany a wonderful, worthwhile experience. I'm thankful for them today and every day.
3. I'm thankful to my friends and family back home, who have supported me through Skype, emails, and Facebook posts. I miss them, and I'm excited to see them at Christmas or next summer (depending on geography).
4. I'm thankful for my students, who listen to me even though I have no idea what I'm doing, and who provide me with enough funny stories to make my sides ache for weeks on end.
5. I'm thankful for the internet. It provides me with a link back home and hours of entertainment in English, when I just don't want to work so hard.
6. Rounding out this incomplete list, I'm thankful for the kind Germans who patiently help through their language and country. I've felt nothing but welcome since coming to Germany, even from total strangers who work in the cathedral treasury and compliment my German.

Tomorrow or the day after I'll be back with crazy stories, but for now, thanks y'all.

Postscript: okay, one funny story - in explaining the concept of Thanksgiving to one class, one of my students asked "but who are you thanking?" and I explained that for some people it's God or a god, and others are just generally thankful. "I understand with the church and God" he said, "but if you aren't go to church, I don't think it's very good to thank, because you thank yourself. It's like bragging."

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