Giving Thanks

 Thanksgiving Down Under was a truly beautiful experience last week.  The whole week was just amazing, and, surprisingly, I wasn’t homesick (of course, seeing my family on Skype enjoying their feast made me wish I was with them, but overall, I was proud of myself for truly enjoying and embracing the experience here).

Children bring a whole new dimension to holidays, and holidays make me especially grateful to be a mother and to experience the magic and the joy and the new experiences holidays bring through my children’s eyes.  The boys and I did some turkey crafts during the week— of course we made turkeys out of their hands—the old classic.  I know that they will not ever do these things in school, so even though I have never been into crafts, I do enjoy doing them with my own kids and I try really hard so they get to experience these holidays sort of the way they would if they were living in the U.S.  I want them to always identify with that part of their culture and background. 

I was very impressed because Zach’s daycare actually sent a note home with us asking about our family’s culture.  I sent it back mentioning the Thanksgiving holiday and they had his whole class make turkeys and then talked about the holiday together.  I was so grateful for that!  Steve actually remarked to me that it doesn’t seem like Australians recognize other cultures much or are interested in them and I agreed, noting that no groups that the boys or I are involved in ask me or any other foreigners there to share about their cultures at all.  I think that’s such a wonderful way to learn new things and appreciate people and their differences. 

The holiday itself was last Thursday, and that day here it wasn’t really acknowledged at all.  However, our newly forming network of American friends all wished each other a happy one and that was really neat.  Friday here was Thanksgiving in the U.S. and I so enjoyed looking at Facebook that day and hearing about people’s celebrations and also of course, a lovely Skype session with more of my family members together at one time. 

Also on Friday, the three NFL football games in the U.S. were actually televised live here, starting at about 5:00 a.m.!  That was cool to know even though I wasn’t interested in watching.  😉  Steve even found parts of the Macy’s parade on YouTube and the boys LOVED watching it!  That day I was super busy shopping and cooking for our own special celebration the next day.  I told Drew all that we had to get done that day and he said, “Mommy I have a really busy day, too.  I have to color, help my friends with a new game (his stuffed animals) AND build a new train track.”  We agreed it was going to be a REALLY busy day for all of us! 

On Saturday, I actually got to listen to the Buffs game on the internet radio while I made the potatoes for our feast—just like a real Thanksgiving!   The Buffs actually scored a touchdown while we listened and Drew and I played the fight song and danced and sang to it.  I had a really great time all week learning new ways to make an important day remain important and ways to adapt it and make it special in a new and different way, while still honoring the memories and traditions of my past.

Our gathering will go down as one of the best memories I have made since being here.  We had two other half-American families like ours, one full American famil ,plus a couple Australian families and one South African family who all were interested in experiencing Thanksgiving and learning about it.  It was the first time I have ever been in charge of the dinner and the irony of that was not at all lost on me.  At home, our gatherings never went above 10 people as babies started being born, and I was lucky if I was allowed to contribute one dessert and one side.  Suddenly, now I’m in charge for a group of about 25 people including babies and wee ones.  Holy moly!  Steve took charge of the turkey and did an amazing job on it, for which I am truly grateful.  I cannot handle cooking a full-sized animal of any species on any day, and especially not when I’m trying to make all the other dishes and desserts for that amount of people! 

Turkeys are very expensive here and much smaller.  We had two 4 kilo (about 10 pound) turkeys and he cooked them in the Weber grill.  It is funny making all that hot food when it is so hot outside!  It was also funny trying to keep everything protected from the flies.  We set up the food and all ate outside and the kids had the run of the yard on a gorgeous day.  That seems so odd, but other than the differences in temperature, setting and bugs,  it was absolutely Thanksgiving.  We all shared grace before sitting down and we all told each other what we were thankful for.  Overall, the Americans seemed so grateful to be able to celebrate something that had always been such an important part of their heritage and that they’d actually been missing out on, or skipping, since moving here.  The others seemed to really enjoy being part of such a special day, all focused on our blessings and the enjoyment of each other.  I am tearing up writing this—it was such a beautiful, touching day, so full of community, which is just as it should be. 

Ok, moving on—Christmas is in full swing around here and all of the schools are winding down for the summer holidays, and celebrating graduations.  My baby had his first ‘graduation’ of his short life yesterday, from playgroup.  They gave him a certificate and a gift, because he will be in school next year instead of able to go to playgroup anymore.   It was a bit sad.  L  It was also funny, because his little brother went up in front for the recognition too.  He was off playing, saw big brother being recognized for something and felt he must be needed there, too, so went and stood right by his side.  It was too precious!  The mothers that don’t know me well thought I wasn’t coming back because I had TWO kids starting school next year! 

Time for more funny comparisons:

-A ‘punch up’ is a fist fight or brawl and it sounds so funny when people are describing one.

-‘Having a go’ at someone means you are arguing with them, sort of like getting in their face.

-I heard DJs on the radio the other day talking about ‘wagging’ in relation to school, and after careful research, it turns out that means ditching school. 

-‘Skiting’ means bragging.  A coworker was skiting recently, telling us all about the details of her recent trip. 

-Apparently here the game Tic Tac Toe is known as Naughts and Crosses.

-Several nursery rhymes or children’s songs will appear to be the same at first, but I always end up looking clueless because suddenly the words or pronunciations will be entirely different and I’ll be lost in the middle of it.  L 

-Instead of saying ‘Next Monday’ or ‘Monday of next week’, they will say ‘Monday week.’  That one really threw me at first:  “The class will be Monday week.”  Huh?  What is Monday week?  Is there also a Tuesday week and a Wednesday week?

-They write the dates here as day/month/year, which actually does make more sense.  However, I think we do the opposite because it is easier to say December 12th than the 12th of December.  Then I realized they still don’t say it that way here—they dropped the ‘of’.  They just say ‘the event is on 12th December.’  Odd….

-Time is written like 1.30 instead of 1:30. 

-When someone memorizes something, they say ‘he knows it OFF by heart’ instead of ‘knows it by heart.’  Sounds SO cute!

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