… 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.