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 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
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?