What Does Thanksgiving Mean When You’re an Expat?

This year, I’ll be in London on Thanksgiving. That in and of itself isn’t all that odd — I’ve done Thanksgiving in London before, at my friend’s apartment, where she had a real oven, and I could invite the strange hodgepodge of friends — from New York, from university, from San Sebastian, from Paris, from Cannes — all of whom had found their way to the English capital that year.

But this year, I won’t be cooking turkey or hosting the huge blowout I usually do. That isn’t to say I won’t have a Thanksgiving meal this year. I’ve already had two Thanksgivings, one with a group of friends earlier in the month, and one last week as I prepared recipes for an article on how to make Thanksgiving dinner in a toaster oven. But the fourth Thursday in November has come and gone without much fanfare for some time now.

I’m starting to realize that it’s because I don’t feel like I need it anymore.


Smashed sweet potatoes with leeks

When I first moved to Paris, Thanksgiving was like a homing beacon, a celebration that was essentially, purely American. It was a time to remember my otherness with people who also felt other. But while I still feel foreign, étrangère — and probably always will — I don’t need that celebration anymore. I don’t need the reminder. I’m comfortable in the entre-deux, the halfway place between my home culture and my culture here.


Green beans and bacon

Still, especially now, with the instability of the political landscape at home — and the uncertainty of it here — it seems appropriate, and even essential, to remember all of the things that I have to be thankful for. So here’s a little list of some of the many; just because I’m not roasting a turkey doesn’t mean I can’t take a minute to stop and say “thank you” to the universe.


Miniature pumpkin pie

I’m thankful for the freedom that my job affords me, the ability that I have to make the huge distances between me and the people that my heart is closest to seem so small, when I need to.

I’m thankful for my education, which has not only afforded me the experience of meeting some incredible people over the years but has also introduced me to great thinkers and writers who help me to understand history, philosophy, and psychology, all of which allow me to put many of the current events I am experiencing into perspective.

I’m thankful for my family, both back home and here in France. In a time when nothing seems certain in America, it has never felt better to know that I can rely on my family-in-law here.

I’m thankful for my husband, who takes me as I am — independent, intrepid, neurotic, scattered, and a little manic — and decides, every day, to love me anyway.

I’m thankful for the written word, because in all honesty, sometimes stringing a few words together is the only thing that really makes sense to me.

And, as always, I’m very thankful for pie.


Miniature tarte tatin

All of the recipes for the dishes featured in this post can be found at the Impatient Foodie. Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, readers!


Chicken stuffed with chicken liver stuffing