It’s a little strange for me to think it’s Thanksgiving week, because here in Germany, it’s just another week without a holiday. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I really miss getting together with family for the day.
When we lived in Indiana, every other year we would go up to South Bend to celebrate with part of David’s family. There’s always football to watch, an amazing array of food and best of all, excellent conversation with awesome family. When Grammer was still alive, I enjoyed sitting with her and hearing her stories. She sometimes apologized and would say, “oh, but I’m probably boring you.”. But no, not at all (maybe because I didn’t grow up with Grammer’s stories; I loved hearing them!). I miss not going up to South Bend to celebrate Thanksgiving with this side of the family.
During recent years when we would have Thanksgiving with my side of the family, usually we would have it at my Granny’s. I remember hosting it once when we still lived in an apartment in Indianapolis, before we got married. And I know we hosted at our house at least once. Usually it was just my older sister, Granny and us; Dad and my younger sister would have their own plans back in New York. This year, Dad and my older sister will celebrate with my younger sister and her in-laws, on her in-laws’ farm in New York. I so wish I could be there with everyone.
So thinking about Thanksgiving does make me feel wistful. We will be celebrating on Saturday, just the four of us. For me, it’s not quite the same celebrating without extended family. I haven’t found a whole turkey here in the store; I did find some turkey legs but I have decided instead to roast a leg of lamb. Pumpkin pie filling is not available either, as far as I can tell. However, I’ve experimented with baking other squash (like butternut) and using the squash purée in place of pumpkin, and it works equally well and tastes the same to me. Happily, I have been able to buy cranberries in the store. The cranberry sauce is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, so I’m all set!
As I mentioned my post about Viennese Cresent Cookies (Vanillekipferl), Germans do celebrate Saint Martin’s feast, usually with roast duck. Sometimes Germans will celebrate a harvest feast, called Erntedankfest, but this has more of a religious meaning behind it and I don’t know how widespread it’s celebrated.
When I was teaching German at the high school level, one of the activities we liked to do with our students was to have them cook an Erntedankfest meal after school in the school’s kitchen. With a little help from parents, the students would prepare the meal themselves (things like Schnitzel, Spätzle noodles, cucumber salad and black forest cherry cake). Although it was a lot of work, I loved this activity and miss doing it with my students. One of my students mentioned it so I’m glad to know that they are still making a meal to eat together.
With that, I wish all of you back home in the States and also abroad, including those serving in the military, a happy Thanksgiving.