After spending the last two Thanksgivings outside of the U.S., both of them without family and both of them working, I'd venture to say that, in my opinion, Thanksgiving is the hardest holiday to spend abroad. There's just something about it - the way it goes completely without observation in Spain, and I would imagine, the rest of the world, how most of the traditional foods can be difficult + expensive to replicate outside of the U.S., there's no four-day weekend, and how Christmas has been going on here since the day after Halloween. It just feels very different.
However, we've survived, and have, in fact, had a pretty good time with it the past two years. Last year we went to a big dinner at our church the Sunday before, and on Thanksgiving we had our friend Sam over for a small dinner just the three of us and it was quite nice.
This year Danny and I spent the week of giving lots of presentations to our classes at school about Thanksgiving: how it started, how it's celebrated today, and how we celebrate with our families complete with photos - so thanks everyone for posing for photos around the table...my only regret is not getting in the photos because I'm not sure the kids at school really believed it's my family since I'm not actually in the photos! - followed by some related activities and games.
We had our friend Ronna over on Thanksgiving after school for a last-minute celebration with sweet potato quinoa chili, bread, cake, and pumpkin bars - after all, what's Thanksgiving without at least two desserts?! It was kind of a low-key affair since I don't get home till between 6:30 and 7pm most nights, and Danny was mostly on his own for the cooking, but we were glad we decided to do something to mark the occasion.
The weekend after we gathered with a bunch of friends for a proper feast. It was especially fun because at least half the crowd that was there isn't American - two are British, two are South African, and one is Colombian, but everyone really put their best foot forward and we had quite an impressive spread: chicken (turkey is pretty hard to find in Madrid), stuffing, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, quinoa salad, sweet potatoes, and mac and cheese, followed by apple pie and pumpkin pie. We were surrounded by our best friends here in Madrid as we ate with plates perched on our knees on couches and chairs and hatched up our next gathering (Christmas cookie decorating anyone?) and although we missed our families and the parade and time off on Thursday, by Sunday, all was forgotten, and all we felt was thankfulness, which is really the idea after all, isn't it?