Thanksgiving 2011

6:34 AM

     It’s Thanksgiving. Turkey and corresponding stuffing have mercifully not exploded, imploded or turned any color unnatural to their kind. The guests have all arrived bringing various offerings of flowers, pie, ice cream and such (it seems to be considered slightly rude in Germany to show up to a dinner party without a token for the host). I stand and ask our resident pastor, in actuality a well known lawyer in our town who often preaches at our church, to say grace and a prayer is offered up in swift Deutsch as the smell of puten (turkey) fills the air. I then ask one of my guests to carve up the unfortunate turkey I’ve named Gerald. I find I often talk to my food while preparing it so we might as well be on a first name basis. Ex. “Gerald, why don’t you fit in the oven? You really are a quite fat beastie, aren’t you?”  While Gerald meets his fate, the guests serve themselves and make small talk but I can’t help wondering why it is that no one has touched a thing on their plate. So, I begin to eat and suddenly everyone joins in and I realize that in Germany people often wait for the host to begin eating or at least to offer up a “Guten appetite” which I promptly remedy.

    As we eat I’m asked numerous times to retell the Thanksgiving story about a time in which the Indians and Pilgrims lived and ate together in peace. Each time my story is followed by a remark along the lines of “Ahso. Let me see if I understand this correctly. They helped keep you from starving and then you returned the favor by killing them all?” followed by a placidly innocent German grin and a snarky growl from myself. If the Germans are anything, it’s direct. It’s an odd conglomeration of people to be sure. And as I look around at my odd assortment of food and humankind, I am struck once again by how grateful I am for what God has done in one short year. Only a year before, I spent a cold, quiet Thanksgiving having worked a typical eight hour day babysitting without so much as a turkey sandwich to my name. I returned to my small rented bedroom that still contained not a stick of furniture and finished off painting my walls. And here I was this year surrounded by a delegation of the people I had come to love and greatly respect in my short time in this unknown land. There was Schmitty, the tax lawyer with his altogether German penchant for orderliness tempered by an unruly giggle, there were Torsten and Martina, also a lawyer (whom I refer to as the Michael Jackson preacher while in one sermon he decided to wear just one glove as an illustration, leaving one considering the possibility of his breaking into a haphazard moon walk at any moment) and his wife, the quick witted English teacher. Franzi and her boyfriend Alex (also known as language man for his absorption of five languages in total), Matt and Jill the British/American couple saving my sanity in the midst of all this germanness J, Marcus the sailor/ English and Math student with an enormous heart for worship, Marika the counselor and talented pianist and the Gaubitz family who had practically adopted me.

   Why do I bother to introduce you to all my guests? Well, personally because I think they’re all rather wonderful and as I studied each of them from my slightly exhausted post cooking haze, I realized again and again how God inextricably intertwines people into our lives. I never thought I would leave America for long and now I find myself wondering how I could ever go back. I suppose God puts our heart where we’re supposed to be. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Wishing you happy holidays amongst your own personal treasures!

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  1. There's nothing quite as adventurous or memorable as Thanksgiving in a foreign country with foreign friends. I'm glad it was a happy one for you!

  2. If you keep naming your food you'll become a vegan like Franzi...:)


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