Look, I’m really sorry that I am a Thanksgiving grump. I’m equally sorry that I think Thanksgiving is a total bore.
You should know that I have really tried to like this holiday and sure, I’ve had my fair share of enjoyable orphan expat turkey dinners with friends. But I still just can’t muster up any love for the traditional crappy food that makes up Thanksgiving dinner. The truth is I just hate turkey. It’s just so dry and stuffing, as its name implies, is downright gross. Cranberries? Eh, too sickly sweet. Sure, mashed potatoes are not bad, but Thanksgiving really can’t claim that dish as its own. Pumpkin pie? Eh, take it or leave it.
However, despite the fact that I’m not down with the Thanksgiving cardboard-esque grub doesn’t mean I can’t see the value in being thankful and showing gratitude. Even though I always get a little uncomfortable seeing those daily Facebook “today, I’m thankful for…” lists. I’m always so happy to see that someone is thankful for their family, their dog, their commute, their home, their wine, their Starbucks pumpkin spiced double fouble foo-foo, etc.
Anyway, I guess that after the entire November month seeing everyone’s gratefulness trickle down my FB timeline, something has rubbed off on me and I’ve decided to join in the gratitude list making in my own style. This year has been a crazy year full of incredible travels and great news all around so why not show a little gratitude to my adopted country?
- Thank you for teaching me how to roll with the punches
Remember when Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias says, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”? Well, Spain, you and your stubborn ways have often taught me how to cry and laugh at the same time. How many times have I shaken my head in frustration and closed my fists readying myself to stomp on the floor in a holy hellfire southern girl fit only to break out laughing at your absurdity and just soldier on no matter what obstacles you’ve thrown my way? And you know what? Somehow it all just gets worked out so thank you for teaching me not to freak out everytime someone tells me no.
- Thank you for teaching me to slow down
Okay, you have forced your slowness on me with a maddening indifference unlike any other thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life, but you know what? I kind of like it. Your inability to do anything fast has mellowed me and now, I don’t care how long you take to do anything. Living in Spain has become my natural Prozac.
- Thank you for showing me how to eat
Madre mia. How in the world did I not realize for all those years how ginormous American portions are? Every time I go back I feel like plates have gotten larger and the amount of food product on top is just horrendous, (and usually incredibly tasty, damn it). Tapas all the way!
- Thank you for surprising me with your constant beauty
Your art, culture, history, coastlines, mountains, pueblos, landscape, culinary elegance, traditions and those unbelievable, one-of-a-kind magenta and orange swooshy sunrises and sunsets. Spain, your immense beauty feels me with pride every time I see a new side of you. You are incredibly breathtaking on so many levels.
- Thank you for toughening me up
I now realize that politeness is a double-edged sword. Sometimes smiling patiently works in your favor and other times, it’ll result in your slowly dying from hunger at that table while you politely wait for that busy server to unignore you. Yes, I’m still polite, but just like that 4 foot, 90-year-old señora over there, I will take you down if I feel I’m not getting justice. Complainy bitchiness is not in my nature, but I can sure fake it when I want to put pressure on someone. Good or bad, Spain has taught me that.
- Thank you for your medical service
Sure, the health system has its pros and cons, but damn, everytime I need something the least bit health related, the system has consistantly surprised me with its quality. Okay, yes, there was that time that that awful gyno threw my pap smear in the trash, but thankfully, after that, it’s been smooth sailing.
- Thank you for showing me the value of sports
Okay, sure there are many people who believe that football has taken on a ridiculous level of priority. And maybe that’s true to some extent. But, I love the way football brings us all together in some way. I love the way it can serve as a national or regional sense of pride and contention. Forgetting for a moment the famous athletes that seep into our everyday life here, there are some quiet yet amazingly inspirational sport stories out there. Additionally, I have to say that anyone who doubts the power of sports should run/walk in a 5 or 10K sometime here in Madrid. The communal euphoria is overwhelming. Heck, just thinking about the Guiri Run still brings tears to my eyes.
- Thank you for showing me your strength
It should be obvious that I love this country, but clearly Madrid makes my heart flutter with a borderline obsession. Every time I go out exploring these days, I fall in love just a bit more. Although we’re still weathering the crisis storm, every weekend I’m finding new bars, restaurants, art exhibitions, ferias, sporting events, protests, etc. It shows endurance and spirit and I’m excited for the future of the city. Say what you will about Madrid, but this city has a lot of oomph to it, in good times and bad.
- Thank you for all the ham
And last but not least – HAM ! Smoky, delicious Iberian ham has simply changed my world.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!