November 29, 2010

An International Thanksgiving, Sun and Snow, and Munich’s Christkindlmarkt

Thursday, November 25th


Happy Thanksgiving!

The holiday is finally upon us. Well, okay… not really. But for those of you in the States, it most certainly is. Here in Germany, it’s just another day. It is, however, the first time in all 24 years of my life that I haven’t been with my family. And what a painful feeling it was to miss them so much. I’ve been homesick here but nothing compared to the ache that I felt on Thursday. I was tempted to just stay away from Facebook all day because every single status update had to do with family and delicious food and the warm fuzzy feeling that overcomes you after you’ve gorged yourself on wonderful Thanksgiving food. And the status updates about the leftover Turkey sandwiches? I was dying. That’s one of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving – turkey sandwiches with gravy and mashed potatoes smashed between a Hawaiian king roll. YUM. More than anything, I missed the tradition of being with my sister-cousin Christy and her four crazy boys. Since I was 16, I’ve been going to her house for Thanksgiving (give or take a few years) and I spend an entire week in good spirits with some of my favorite crazy kids and their ultra-super-cool mom. We watch Elf and decorate their Christmas tree. We spend all day making food. Last year I made chocolate cream pies and they were GOOD. Fortunately, we’re going to have Thanksgiving in July, just for me. This is why I love my sister-cousin. She is amazing. I pretty much just missed my entire family – even my little brother who I haven’t seen over Thanksgiving in years. My mom, my dad, my step-mom, my grandma, my aunt Debbie and her delicious food, my cousins, my step-sister, my niece. I wish I could have celebrated Thanksgiving with everyone but I couldn’t be in five places at once – especially when I’m in one place 500 million miles away!

I should comment, however, that of all of the things that I am grateful for – the opportunity to be in Germany right now is one of them. I know I complain and that my life isn’t always a bucket of sunshine but I really wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else. I am so thankful that I was given the chance to experience this and everything that’s led me here –  thankful for my parents who never gave me any limits or restrictions on what I could accomplish or who I could become, thankful for my self-determination to make something of myself - personally, academically, and spiritually -and thankful for the confidence that I had to know that I could do this year abroad. I will never forget this experience and already it has given me so much insight into who I am and who I will become later in my life. I am learning so much about how to grow and become a truly independent young woman and there is nothing that I cherish more than that. Germany is what I am thankful for this year and just the fact that I am here and that I did it. I surpassed all of the mediocrity that I thought defined me and proved that I am capable of doing great things and being one hundred percent, absolutely proud of myself. So, thank you to everyone who supported me as I made this journey and to everyone who is by my side here in Munich and aslo to those who patiently wait for me to come home and who give me every reason to know, without the shadow of a doubt, that I am loved. You are all wonderful and I am truly blessed to know each and every one of you.

For my lonely holiday, I got my mind off of my longing by going out with my darling Laura and meeting one of her friends, who – of course – became my friend as well. That’s one of the best parts about being here. I am constantly meeting new people and I love it! We had good conversation at a sweet little Italian restaurant near Sendlinger Tor and then wandered towards Karlsplatz in search of free cupcakes. We didn’t find them. I then headed home to get ready for a play date at the house. I spent two hours sitting in the girls play room with the other family’s pregnant nanny where I drew pictures with Eenie and talked a lot of business (for her, anyway) about her soon-to-be-born baby. I made dinner for the eight of us (spaghetti bolognese and salad with tomatoes, gurken [aka cucumbers], and mozarella) and was surprised to find that it spread between all eight of us. Around seven I got the girls ready for bed, read them two books, played make-believe with Eenie and her multitude of stuffed horses, and then was dismissed for the evening. I joined Eric, Helen, Paul, and Michael at the UBahn and we ventured into the city for a night with ToyTown – which is ever the interesting event. Then I came home to discover that I’d left my window open and it was freezing cold. Oops.

Friday, November 26th

I woke up to snow! Snow that actually sticks to the ground! It was a wonderful sight to behold – I forgot how lovely snow is when it’s falling down and it definitely made me a bit nostalgic for my childhood winters in Montana. But only a bit. I’m sure I’ll be tired of it come January or February when it suffocates the city and refuses to go away.

DSCN9816Snow outside the house at 7:30 am

Friday was fairly uneventful concerning my au pair responsibilities. The family left for their condo in Kitzbühel, Austria around one and so I was free from the afternoon on. I met up with Laura and Eric and we wandered through the city looking for the cheapest copy of Desperate Housewives season 5, since the Frau gave me money to buy it for her (and for me, of course!). It continued snowing for most of the day and I thoroughly enjoyed running around in it as the big, fluffy snowflakes fell all over the place. I had friends over that evening for pizza and wine – good friends and good company.

Saturday, November 27th

It didn’t snow overnight so I didn’t wake up to any new snow but Friday’s snowfall stuck around. For the most part. I had a lazy morning and had some friends over to watch Desperate Housewives and other various films. We were cooking for our International Thanksgiving at Ana’s house that evening so we made use of the kitchen and the oven for most of the day. I baked banana bread – the most delicious banana bread you will ever eat – and also made candied yams with baked marshmallow topping and some delicious mashed potatoes. In the afternoon we decided to get out and go for a walk in the English Gardens and enjoy the beautiful sunshiney day. Laura, Helen, Benji, and I walked through the gardens for a wonderful thirty minute adventure and it was glorious.

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On Saturday evening we ventured out into the city with our arms full of Thanksgiving food and made our way to Ana’s apartment off Max-Weber-Platz. Our International Thanksgiving was perfect from start to finish. Ana and Candace managed to cook a delicious brown turkey. We had all of the traditional staples like mashed potatoes, yams, corn, Pillsbury biscuits, and even a delicious stuffing. We didn’t have any pumpkin pie though – that was a bummer – but we had other wonderful desserts many which were from different countries, like Portugal and China. A lot of our meal came from different countries so it was definitely an international feast. And oh yes, there was wine. Bottles and bottles of wine. And glühwein, of course! By the time the food was done and I was ready to load my plate, I was flushed and every bit tipsy. It was a high spirited Thanksgiving feast and the food was delicious. I was so happy. I couldn’t have asked for a better Thanksgiving-away-from-home!

DSCN9931Bob, the delicious turkey!

DSCN9926  Glühwein!

DSCN9945 Me and Wing – about to enjoy our feast!

156250_174152932603266_100000256819848_529831_2475950_n Me and our lovely Thanksgiving buffet!

Sunday, November 28th

It was another lazy day. I consumed even more Desperate Housewives episodes and cleaned up from the weekend – all of that baking and kitchen cooking took its toll. Helen and Laura spent most of the morning and afternoon hanging out, watching TV with me and in the afternoon, Eric came over with some piano music and entertained us with his lovely piano playing. He is really good! The boy is full of tricks. In the late afternoon, Helen, Eric, and I ventured to Marienplatz to check out the Christkindlmarkt. I hadn’t been yet so I was very excited to go. It was beautiful and delightfully Christmasy but it was freezing cold and I started to lose feeling in my legs and fingers so we all turned in early and went back to our respective houses. But I look forward to exploring it again! It’s going to be in Munich until Christmas Eve.

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