Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Obligatory Expat Thanksgiving Post That's Really About Christmas

Photo courtesy of Flickr by Paparutzl 

This week is a holiday week in America. If I were still living there, today would probably be my last day of work. Or I might "work" tomorrow and scoot out after lunch to catch a train back to my parents.

But I don't live in America and I'm not going home to America this year, and I'm okay with all of this. I chose not to live there, and, while I miss my family and my friends, I don't really miss the food. I actually hate sweet potatoes and yams, so that's a win, and now that I can get Libby's canned pumpkin here (I worked out that I paid $2.25 per can for the pleasure of it, but hey, imports are expensive) I've gotten pretty good at replicating my Mom's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

I usually don't get worked up about missing holidays because I live far away, but this year I have an extra reason for being less than sad: my parents are arriving tomorrow evening for a long weekend of non-traditional Thanksgiving-ness.

My office has a restaurant headed up by a chef trained at The Wolseley, and he is cooking us all Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday. My parents will come for lunch in the midst of their museum-ing, and that evening we will go to the holiday shopping evening at my favorite local store Aria before dinner at Trullo. Friday we will see a show in the evening, and Saturday we will head down to Kent for a tour of Chapel Down Winery.

But the real focus of their visit will be to see London all dressed up for the holidays. Sunday will be devoted to visiting everything in London that screams Christmas: Fortnum & Masons, Regents Street, John Lewis, and of course Liberty. I'm gutted that the Christmas Past exhibit won't be open at the Geoffyre Museum while they're here - I'll just have to go to that myself. It's almost as if we as a family have decided to skip the Thanksgiving holiday and just run straight on to December.

I'm okay with that. As a kid, I never really liked Thanksgiving (no presents!) and as an expat I've been delighted to find myself obsessed with Christmas the way only a child can be. It's the way people here get excited for the holiday, the way it saturates the whole country (no multicultural/multireligious politically correctness here!), the way that there are Christmas cooking shows on TV, the way the country shuts down on the 23rd (except for the airports unless it snows/ices/squalls/etc), the way the Queen addresses the country and wishes everyone well. If Thanksgiving is a family holiday about love and thankfulness in America, Christmas is a holiday about love and unity in the UK - one big boozy knees up and bear hug to see out the end of the year.

So I'm glad to not be making a fuss about Thanksgiving this year; I am glad to be embracing the Christmas season early, kicking it off with a bang, with the people I love the most. Little Brother - can you join us last minute to make the weekend complete?

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