Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Shadows of Thanksgiving

Last year I celebrated Thanksgiving with other Expats in Kosovo. Several of our friends who are Nationals were there as well. We had turkey with all the trimmings. Mostly. I took roasted vegetables. I had trouble finding fresh rosemary and thyme. I settled for packages of the herbs with pictures on
Roasted Vegetables: Kosovo 2017
the front that looked the part. My friend Ruth was with me as we shopped. I’m not sure what language was on the label. Even Ruth’s translation app on her phone wasn’t sure. The recipe also requires butternut squash. I was about to give up when my friend Jill offered me one a mutual friend found on a trip to Greece. The vegetables were acceptable. The pumpkin pie was a team effort with several of us in the kitchen offering possible substitutes for missing ingredients. Christopher’s cranberry sauce was delicious even though it was made from cherries. Hey, sometimes you have to make do with what you have.

After we ate we played an interesting game of “Mafia.” We snacked and played games all afternoon. Kosovo is six hours ahead in time from Ohio. I left the party before we broke out the desserts. I was back in my apartment in time to engage in some face-to-face time with my family via Google Hangouts. My three daughters, my three sons-in-law and my eight grandchildren gathered for Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to see everyone together at my house for the holiday. My mother was there as well, though maybe a bit reluctantly. She didn’t feel right having dinner in my home without me. 

I have many Thanksgiving memories but this is one I will long cherish. This is why:

For some reason the technology wasn’t working correctly. I could see and hear them fine. They could see me but couldn’t hear me on their computer. We tried all kinds of settings. One of the kids finally figured out an alternate solution using a phone. They left the computer on and set it on the fireplace mantel in the living room. I spoke with everyone. Every daughter, every son-in-law, and every  grandchild. I talked with my mom. She took me on a tour of the kitchen with all of my daughters chatting and cooking together. They had actual cranberries and all the ingredients they needed. And a big turkey. I loved it.

My whole family was there. So was I... in spirit. 

The food was ready so everyone helped put the various dishes on the table. We prayed and then I said my good-byes. We hung up. But as they turned off the phone, the computer on the mantel came back to life. I had a clear view of my empty living room. I could hear the voices of my loved ones in the dining area though I couldn’t tell what they were saying. I could see shadows as they moved, pouring drinks and settling the little ones into their chairs but they couldn’t see me. 

And I could hear their laughter. I closed my eyes to the shadows and wrapped myself in the warmth of being part of a family. For a long time, I lay stretched out on the couch listening to the sounds of love.

Do comment. Feel free to share a Thanksgiving memory. I'll respond.

If you want to read the post I wrote about that Kosovo Thanksgiving in 2017,  CLICK HERE.  

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