Our 2nd Thanksgiving in Hungary was infinitely better than our 1st. Well, these numbers refer to our recent move; we did have several other Thanksgivings here in years past. My kitchen is much better stocked, outfitted and just easier to use now than just a month after our arrival. But it wasn’t just a matter of our kitchen or supplies, our hearts are in a different place. Our family has always written down what we’re thankful for, I keep the papers each year. We tend to look back over our year as we consider what to record our thanks for that year. Last year we were still fresh off the plane, still full of the wonder and anticipation of the changes we were in the midst of. We were thankful we’d arrived safely, sure, and for Norbert and me, we were so thankful to be back in Hungary. But there were more questions than thankfulness; it’s hard to be thankful of deeper issues when so much is unknown. And the practical aspects of Thanksgiving sort of sucked last year, adding to an odd holiday.
I haven’t become a better cook in one year. But I have learned how and where to grocery shop here better. We knew this year to order a whole turkey from the butcher ahead of time (they only have them in stock for Christmas unless you order one), so we didn’t have only two breasts and some thighs, but a real, whole, big turkey (which almost didn’t fit in our European size oven!). We knew the store with the ‘American’ products in stock for one special week earlier in the fall, enabling us to have cranberry juice and muffins. And I knew what to ask my parents to ship us that we can’t find anywhere here, for those special touches and favorites for all the family members. No, Thanksgiving in Hungary will never be the same as in America. We’re watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade a day or two after the fact, on youtube. And my family are all much too far away, and Skype only brings them so much closer. I miss having a nice set of dishes, and enough serving bowls that aren’t plastic. And Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Juice just can’t be replaced for our family, or shipped. But we can still eat way too much food, we can still squish too many bodies in the kitchen and help prepare together, we can still play games and watch a movie together. And we can still remember our past year, and consider all the many things we have to be thankful for. And for me, high on that list was how much better things are now than last Thanksgiving. Oh what one year can change.