Like most things when living abroad, holidays are a mish-mash of emotions. There’s the usual blending of the old with the new, but now it’s paired with scrambling around to find all the necessary items … and a lot of “making do” when the things we think we need are nowhere to be found! Thanksgiving is no exception. While all of France seems to have moved on toward the winter holidays, Amore Mio and I are trying to find a way to bring our beloved holiday – which also happens to be the official “it’s okay to play holiday songs and watch Christmas movies after this point” marker!- to Fontainebleau. And while we’re pretty relaxed about it (AM is Italian, after all!), for a lot of expat couples, it can be an emotional time. After all, things aren’t “quite right”, the tried and true brands we’re used to don’t exist in stores here, the recipes you’re used to have to be adjusted to fit the local cuisine, most of us don’t have time off… the list goes on and on! Luckily, we’re all in it together! Read on to learn my top tips to make this Thanksgiving smooth sailing! Gobble gobble!
Rebrand the Holiday
Yes, you read that correctly. Call it something different, folks, because no matter what, that’s what it’ll be – different! Thanksgiving is unique and holds a lot of emotionally charged memories – both good and bad! – for most of us. And adding life as an expat, being away from home and in a foreign country on top of that? Well that’s a hot mess of a let down waiting to happen. That’s why when I invited our guests this year I invited them to “something small but tasty, a very Southern US meets Italian Thanksgiving”. Not only does this take the pressure off (e.g. “don’t expect the traditional ‘do, because this ain’t it”), but it also allows us to embrace and be happy about whatever unique way we’re able to celebrate.
Cook Food You Actually Like
I have a friend whose family has cooked Turkey Osso Buco every year for Thanksgiving her whole life. Don’t ask me what that is (seriously though… what is it!??), the point is simply that they have chosen to eat food that they enjoy, and not force themselves to eat the standard roast and sides, which don’t suit their taste buds. Now, while my mini marshmallow & sweet potato-loving-self would like to call serious shenanigans on the whole thing, they have a point: it’s the shared moments that are important – not a Martha-approved menu! So cook things that you actually enjoy and can look forward to – even if they aren’t traditional!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
This is actually applicable to all of life, so let’s repeat it: don’t be afraid to ask for help!! It’s a busy time of year, and for expats – most of whom don’t get the day off – finding the time and energy to whip up a delicious feast for friends/family can be even trickier than usual. While it’s typical to let guests just bring wine, it’s also totally okay to ask for what you actually need. Short a dessert? Or a side? Ask if guests if they’re willing to make something to share, even if it’s something small! Need someone to run out and get the things you forgot last minute right before the meal? Appoint a “runner” who can be ready to grab stuff on the way to your place… and who come a few minutes early to drop off the goods! 😉
Keep It In Perspective
Yes, Thanksgiving is a lovely tradition. But it’s not one that’s worth stressing over. Really, really. If for whatever reason it just feels like too much for you, that’s okay! You’re allowed to sit one out or choose to go as a guest instead of having to host! As much as the media wants us all to be in a shopping-cooking-hosting frenzie, that’s not what this holiday is really about. Your hosting skills – or lack thereof! – do not define you. Your failed pie – er, I mean, your “deconstructed apple crumble” – is not the end of the world. And your charred turkey? Well, let’s just call it blackened and pass a little extra gravy around to make that palatable. After all, you’re not perfect, and this holiday doesn’t need to be either!
So, with all that in mind, let’s take a collective deep breath (can I get an “Ommm”!?), as we head into the next 72 hours or so. Sit up straight, roll those shoulders and shake off the stress. It’s all good, boo: you’ve got this!! <3
If you have any other tips for making the most of your expat-Thanksgiving I’d love to hear them! Please share in the comments section below!