Pass the pavo: a tale of two Thanksgivings

Jayson prepares the Thanksgiving bird

Since the students had been introduced to Thanksgiving last year, my co-teachers asked me to start the holiday lesson off with a review. How much did they remember about Turkey Day? Forget pilgrims and parades and even the word “turkey”—the sole thing they remembered was the pavo.

Thanksgiving #One

Thanksgiving will never feel as festive in another country, what with work and being away from family. I caught my parents on Skype and felt distantly connected to goings-on in Arkansas. Good company is paramount on such occasions, and luckily my close friend Christina, who lived in Madrid last year, had traveled across the ocean to spend the holiday in Spain.

Our friend Jayson was planning a proper Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday—who has time to cook a turkey on a workday?!—and so I hosted a “Not-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Dinner” at my apartment on Thursday. I asked everyone to bring atypical Thanksgiving fare, partly because I wasn’t trying to compete with Jayson, and partly because I thought it would be humorous and memorable.

Mini-quiches I made for the event

I also made pintxos with cucumber and gulas (imitation eel)

Guests brought empanada, guacamole, salad, bread and cheese, and other treats

Kelly, Christina, and I

A few hours into the event, someone started clamoring for a toast. I explained how it was my family’s tradition to go around and share what we are thankful for. Our 12-person group, whose members hailed from America, France, Spain, and Scotland, did the same! I started off by giving thanks for having terrific friends in a place where I have no family.

Mixing and mingling in the piso

Thanksgiving #Two

On Saturday came the main event—Thanksgiving dinner itself! Jayson brought America to the table by preparing a turkey, which we could smell before we even walked into his apartment.  He and the other chefs did a stellar job of preparing traditional foods such as stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

Jayson, Christina, and Noel chat while putting together dinner

Another special guest was able to join Saturday’s shin-dig—Ruth! Our pal is now living in London but bought a ticket to Madrid once she got wind of Christina’s visit. She amazed us all by how much her English had improved, especially when accompanied by a smashing British accent.

Christina, me, Ruth, and Noel

It was surreal to be reunited with so many of the same people from last year’s Thanksgiving. In fact, there were six of us from last year and two newcomers, as well. After the meal we sat around the table chatting for more than six hours. Again, I was thankful to have friends in a place where friends are family.

Thanksgiving dinner on a Spanish schedule: 3:30 p.m.!

The pavo-razzi gobbles up the turkey. Are we in America or Spain?

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  1. It all looks quite yummy and festive! Sounds like a good time was had by one and all.

  2. Christina

    By far my favorite of all your posts! What I’m thankful for… having amazing friends to spend Thanksgiving with and for the chance to spend it in the place that feels like “home” to me.

  3. Wow, all of the food looks so delicious! we had a big feast this way, too, and although it wasn’t exactly like home, it was still quite perfect. Cheers!

  4. In 2009, I worked at a campus organization for la USAL (Salamanca) and we had a Cena Internacional for Thanksgiving. Best time ever! So much good food. I am living vicariously through your international Thanksgivings (in plural!). 🙂

  5. everything looks so delish!!! too bad there was no turkey transport this year!

  6. Looks perfect! And I love your idea of making Thursday the non-TG food day since Saturday is definitely expat TG! PS… let’s get together soon!

  7. Cassandra

    Mot – I think so!

    Christina – So glad you could make it! I still can’t believe that 6 of the 8 of us were together last Thanksgiving.

    Katie – Thanks!

    Kaley – Thanks for visiting! The International Meal in Salamanca sounds like a great idea.

    Chelsea – Haha! Yep, no carrying a turkey en brazos down Calle Fuencarral…but we still managed to pull off some photo-worthy moments 🙂

    Lauren – Thanks! It was a successful Thursday. And it’s comforting to know that so many of us save Thanksgiving for the weekend.

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