Thanksgiving with our "Spanish" Family

 Thanksgiving is one of those totally American holidays that has absolutely no significance here in Spain.  Here it’s called Dia de accion de gracias.  Day to give thanks.  And so because it’s not a holiday here, Josh had work and the kids, school.  Last year we went to a friend’s house on Thanksgiving and while we had a great time, the kids were junk by the end of the evening and we really weren’t able to spend a ton of time with them before we had to head home.  So after taking a vote we decided that this year we will celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday.

No, it doesn’t feel the same.  As I started to write this entry on Thanksgiving, I was seeing Facebook posts all about everyone’s celebrations and I’ll be honest, I was jealous.  I was able to push back the feelings of missing home most of Thanksgiving.  I had errands to run to prep for Saturday, my driving test, Spanish class and I had to start baking as well.  So I didn’t have a ton of time to sit and think, but I did have a few emotional moments when it just set in that once again, we aren’t home for the holidays.

Now that being said, I have to say that next to Dia de Sant Jordi (kind of like Valentines Day), Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday here in Barcelona.  Confused?  Yeah, I totally miss home.  But one of the things I love and appreciate about Thanksgiving here is that it’s a holiday just for us ex-pats (and any foreign friends that want to join us) and it gives us a chance to come together as a newly formed family.  My friends here have become my support system and are here for me when the time and distance don’t allow me to see or speak to friends and family from home.  They have become my outlet to make it through day by day through both the good days and the ahhhh Spain kinds of days.  And while we haven’t been friends for long for the most part, time doesn’t matter when it comes to becoming a family of sorts.

As with the last few years, I ordered our turkeys (as in 2 because our Spanish oven won’t fit one big one) the week before.  Turkeys aren’t a very big thing here so it has to be special ordered, especially when you are talking about a 6 kilo (about 13 lbs) one.  And as always, I made sure to say “sin plumas, sin cabeza, todo limpio”… no feathers, head and totally clean.  While my “turkey lady” actually sells more than just turkeys, I only go to her once a year for this special order but every year she recognizes me which is great – so as each year goes by I feel more and more confident that I’ll get what I ordered rather than any special surprises.

With our new apartment with a ton of space, I was super excited about having a big feast.  In the end, we had 18 people (including the 4 of us) – it was actually our biggest Thanksgiving ever!  Not since the days of our annual New Year’s parties have we had this many people to feed at once.  But Josh and I are in our element when it comes to this kind of thing – we are like a well oiled machine.  I’m in charge of dessert, setting up and then the cleaning…  Josh is in charge of the meal.  It may seem like I have more but no way do I want to be in charge of those turkeys or all that goes with them!!

Liam helping me set up the table
Then taking a break with Jake in the kitchen…how cute are they??

We had a great mix of people at our house, some who we were meeting for the first time, others that we’ve known for a while and those that have only been in our lives for about a year (which by ex-pat definition is like a lifetime) or less.  And it felt like everyone just clicked.  There was no conflict, everyone was sociable and friendly with each other, as though they had known each other for years instead of just moments.  To me, if we can’t be home with our families, then there is no one else that I would rather have been with than this amazing group of people.

Mia and Evan hanging out with Aidan (whom I didn’t get one single picture of, bad mom!) and Liam…

Guests started to arrive at 2 with our big turkey dinner around 5ish.  Josh decided since we have such a tiny European oven that it would make sense to bake one and grill the other.  Once again You Tube comes to the rescue – because this would be the first time that he’s grilled a turkey of that size.  And it was delicious!  Everything was delicious as a matter of fact!  However, despite the amazing turkeys, sides, appetizers, etc – the winner of the day was actually the cranberry sauce!

For any ex-pat knows that cranberry sauce from a can is essential to any Thanksgiving celebration!  And as we talked about on our Thanksgiving, it’s key that the cranberry sauce still look like the can.  If you aren’t American, you probably don’t get why this is important – the sauce or it’s appearance.  But many pictures were taken just of the cranberry sauce being opened.  As I write this I think of how odd that sounds and yet, comforting, that a piece of home made it here.

Tapping the can to get that cranberry sauce out… 
Ahhh isn’t it beautiful???
 
With beautiful Barcelona weather in our favor, we enjoyed dinner on our rooftop terrace.  With dinner and then dessert under our belts, the party was still going strong despite the tryptophan comas that were setting in.
Digging in… 
Turkey with all the fixings… 
And dessert with all the fixings too 🙂  
Mmmmm…. American food…
Hernando, Frank & James
Love being with my friends on Thanksgiving!!
Snacking…chatting…snacking some more… 
American beer to go with the American food…
 
But the night was still young, come on this is Barcelona.  A few guests left here and there – some to get kids home to bed and others because they had other commitments, but there was a small group of us that kept things going strong.  And hence our impromptu poker night.
Now I’m much more of a blackjack kind of a girl… for sure.  Poker is not my thing.  I get the concept, it’s the betting that’s an issue for me.  Kind of like watching football, I just lose track of the ball and have no idea what to do next.  But i didn’t do so bad.  Yes, I lost my 10 euros, but I hung in there and wasn’t the first person out of the game which hopefully means I learned something or just had really good beginners luck.
First out…
The final two players…
And the winner is… Ignasi!
The final guests left around 2AM.  Yes, it was close to a 12 hour event.  And I loved every single moment of it.  I’m already looking forward to Thanksgiving 2013.  Thanks to all that came and made the day extra special.  And thanks to Tabitha for all the pics as I totally forgot to take any!!!
Besos,
Julie

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