Our first Thanksgiving together very nearly caused some family strife. S’s parents had invited us to spend the extended weekend with them shortly after we had started dating – many months before the actual holiday – and when D’s mom got wind of the plan, she laid on a massive guilt trip, accusing D of sabotaging her favorite family holiday over “some girl he barely knew.” We wound up doing two Thanksgivings to mollify her, flying from Chicago to Connecticut and then driving to Maine, making sure to spend equal amounts of time with both families.
The following year, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving overseas after moving to Nairobi that summer. Since then, we have gotten used to celebrating this family holiday without our relatives – only once since we embarked on this Foreign Service adventure six and a half years ago did we spend November in the States. We have traveled extensively over Thanksgiving and marked the occasion several times with our expat and Foreign Service friends– a close-knit community that is as good a substitute for family as one can hope for overseas. This year marks the first time in our eight years together that we are spending Thanksgiving apart. A handful of days after D returned from the UK, S took the kids to Europe for a two-week trip with her parents.
Thanksgiving, much like New Year’s, is one of those holidays that lends itself to personal reflection. We have much to be thankful for, even as we look back on the difficult moments we have had over the last year. Spending the holiday apart certainly lends a note of melancholy to the occasion, but we always try to focus on the bright side. For S, that means taking a much-needed vacation and spending time with her family. For D, it means a reprieve from parental responsibilities and quality time with friends. Happy holidays!