Sunday, November 25, 2007

First Thanksgiving in Scotland

Entry for 24 November 2007:

It has been 4 years since I last celebrated Thanksgiving, one of my favorite American holidays: Last year we were in Rome (where my wallet was stolen) at this time, and the two previous years I spent Thanksgiving week in Belgium as part of my work at KU Leuven. This year we were home in Glasgow and decided it would be perfectly OK to celebrate American Thanksgiving on Saturday rather than the standard Thursday, in order to have adequate time to prepare the meal.

Thanksgiving is not the same without a group of people to celebrate it with, but this presented us with a dilemma: After our period of deprivation, we really needed a classic American Thanksgiving experience, which is meat-intensive. However, this ruled out being able to share the experience with our vegetarian friends. Fortunately, our friends Beth, Ana (her daughter), and Mikio eat meat and were up for the ritual.

Our local butcher can’t get turkeys in November (they are a Christmas thing here), so we settled for a fresh ham, which Diane could pick up on Saturday morning, and we eventually got a turkey breast from the Morrisons Supermarket (they did have whole frozen turkeys, but we were already committed to the ham).

We filled the menu out with green beans, green salad, a sweet potato dish (made with pineapple and finished in the microwave because there was no room in the oven), starters such as vegetable relish tray, with Beth supplying the rolls and Mikio providing the wine (Australian). The meal’s crowning glory was of course the pumpkin pie, all parts of which were handmade by Diane, including the filling, made from the fresh pumpkin that Mikio had given us in October (you can’t buy canned pumpkin here). We had to wait an hour, sipping tea and talking, for our appetite to return sufficiently to eat it.

We talked of many things over the course of the evening: what we are thankful for, our plans for the holidays, the upcoming COSCA conference (briefly), the history of the English language and language learning in general, and so on. It was late when they left, and of course there was the typical post-thanksgiving mess of leftovers and piles of dishes. Still, we were very happy with how it had all gone, thankful that we had been able to construct such an American holiday here in Scotland, grateful for good friends and the time. Having made this reconnection with our roots, we resolved that next time we would find a away to open the feast up to our vegetarian friends by adding a potluck element. Turkey and nutloaf!

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