When Life Gives You Rockets…

… Make Thanksgiving Dinner. 

We have so much to be thankful for.

My family’s tradition before eating on Thanksgiving is to go around the table and say what we’re thankful for. I never thought my answer would be “the ceasefire.” Such a strange few days. It wasn’t even a week ago that we had to dive for cover to the ominous shrieks of an air raid siren for the first time. Over the following days, the situation in Gaza and southern Israel continued to worsen. Then, on Tuesday, the sirens went off again, this time while we were at work. Then, the day before Thanksgiving, a bus was bombed in Tel Aviv, and a feeling of dread settled on Jerusalem. One friend fled the country. Another refused to use public transportation and walked home instead.

What a surreal life.

But I felt it was important to continue life as normal and not live in fear. We had invited some friends to come for Thanksgiving dinner the following day, and I had food to buy. So I ventured out to the Shuk Mahane Yehuda (Jerusalem’s open-air market) on the light rail, my valiant husband accompanying me at his own insistence.

That evening, to everyone’s surprise and cautious relief, a ceasefire was announced. But the sirens of ambulances in the distance still made the hairs of my neck stand up. I only hope it really means peace.

But we are grateful for progress toward peace.

I am grateful for our families, so far away, yet so connected to us. Rodolfo’s mom called me at home in the afternoon  to wish me Happy Thanksgiving, a holiday they don’t even celebrate in her country. We Skyped with my family just before dinner, my mom and Abbie and Arturo and the two dogs all crowded into the frame, smiling and sending love across the miles.

I am grateful the food came out great (and we didn’t have to use the backup pasta I had standing by in the fridge in case I totally messed up the meal).

Since turkeys are hard to come by here and half our guests were vegetarian, I made a roast chicken instead, in the way I would have made a turkey. (When I bought the chicken, it still had a neck, some internal organs and a few feathers. So I began the cooking escapade by essentially performing surgery in my kitchen.) It was my first time attempting this, combining Lindsey’s tips for marinating with Heather’s tips for roasting a chicken with a stuffing/side dish/something substantial for the vegetarians very loosely inspired by Isra’s family recipe. And it was delicious!

I am grateful for the friends that came to be with us, an odd mix of good people from four continents. I’m particularly grateful for a new American friend (a Texan even!) that we just met last week; after four years of being married to an Ecuadorean and a year of living outside the U.S. and exclusively hanging out with non-Americans, sometimes odd things start to happen to you. So many times, I’ve attempted to explain something, or used some odd expression, and I get these blank stares or incredulous looks, and I swear they think I’m making all this up. After a while it leaves me wondering if I imagined it all. Is there really a place where people drink sake bombs (yeah, try explaining that one to a Japanese guy) and draw turkeys by tracing their hands? The Texan knew exactly what I was talking about.

There is a place where bombs can’t get in the way of buying chicken, where the wine and the sake and the limoncello flow freely, where the Danes make delicious Asian dumplings and the Asians make delicious quiche, where a bunch of non-Americans will humor the Americans on their holiday and trace their hands to draw turkeys, where the improvised roasted chicken turns out great but the boxed brownies are a total disaster that gets adapted into “lava cake,” where friends from the far corners of the earth can stay up talking and laughing until the wee hours of the morning.

It’s unlikely, yes. It’s surreal, yes. But it’s home.

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8 Comments

Filed under Celebrations, Holidays, What's Cookin'?

8 responses to “When Life Gives You Rockets…

  1. veronica barniol

    Rodolfo y Jessa como los extrañamos !!!! No saben la alegria de verlos BIEN y a pesar de las adversidades y situaciones que uno solo puede imaginarse disfrutan y estan junto a amigos y nuevos amigos! El bebe de la foto es precioso! : )
    Seguire rezando por ustedes y encomendandolo a mi angelito personal. Los quiero tanto!!!

  2. Dear Jessa,
    I read your blog and enjoy it very much. I am proud of you that you always look on the half full glass. you looks glowing and happy in the picture with the chicken, it looks delicious.
    Love,
    Orit.

  3. Mrs. P

    Wow, those are the best hand turkeys that I have ever seen. Great story, thanks for sharing it! As my husband says, it is the differences in people that make things interesting. Glad you had a nice Thanksgiving.

  4. Phoebe Davies

    We in Australia don’t celebrate thanksgiving but Christmas is our big thing and is time spent with family. And I do know what you mean about using expressions that most people don’t know I have a few that I use and they are old ones that my grandparents use and they have become part of my sayings.

  5. Beth

    I know what you mean about explaining things to non-Americans. We were trying to explain to everyone the concept of deep-fried turkeys. I decided not to bring up turduckan. I think all the non-Americans think we Americans are crazy. :-)

  6. We’re praying for you guys and for peace!

  7. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Take care and be safe there, praying the situation calms down soon.

  8. Hi Jessa,

    Great post, love the pics of all those beautiful people, and the meal looks incredible!

    I added your blog to my roster, I think my family will enjoy it!

    Glad you’re safe!
    Mark and Tammara

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