For the first time ever, we had Turkey Day at home.
In the dozen years I’ve been here I can count with two thumbs the number of occasions when we celebrated Thanksgiving, and in both occasions we had the benefit of being hosted and not having to clean up after.
The first time, an American ex-colleague invited us to their flat in The Hague, along with their many others non-American friends and colleagues apparently, for a home-prepared spread – roasted stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, with some odd side dishes thrown in. Despite traveling all that distance Teko and I ended up leaving early because of the crowd situation, and after surprisingly being asked to pay a few Euros for the cost of food.
The second time was just two years ago when an American couple who were old friends of mine from Washington DC lived here for a year and gifted us with a beautiful turkey with all the trimmings. It was a cozy night in their quiet apartment in an old part of the city center, and with copious wine and conversation it reminded me of the many social gatherings I was used to in the States a lifetime ago.
Despite this positive experience the motivation to re-do the occasion never became a priority and any other fellow American I was familiar with were for the most part physically nowhere near us. Out of sight, out of mind – being far from the States and immediate family meant the last Thursday in November was never a big deal. If Covid hadn’t happened I imagine this year’s Turkey Day would have come and gone as usual but with so much time spent isolated at home I needed to make it interesting somehow. For practical reasons preparing an entire meal at home was out of the question, but it didn’t take long to find someone in Amsterdam that offered classic thanksgiving meals for delivery so it was just a question of choosing the right one. Once everything was booked and paid online, Teko and I were set for yet another milestone – even if I don’t really like turkey.
Much as I’d like to say our thanksgiving was a success, sadly it failed in spectacular fashion. Reheating the prepackaged meals and creating a decent plating was a stress and time management test that I just couldn’t manage with a smile, and after we sat down to finally enjoy our meal, owing to over-portioned sides and Teko’s finicky tastes, nearly half of the food ended up in the trash bin. As well, we were on different wavelengths the entire night – we couldn’t keep up a conversation if our lives depended on it – and couldn’t wait to get the fiasco over and done with as soon as possible.
Much of the reason I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving this year was appropriately enough to give thanks, that we were both relatively healthy, both still employed (for the time being at least), and both minimally affected by these current treacherous circumstances. Notwithstanding our less than stellar attempt at Turkey Day, it’s still worth noting how lucky we are, and knock on wood hope to continue to be so. Not really a traditionalist and having made an honest attempt, it’s almost a certainty we won’t be doing this at home again. While throwing away so much food may be the American way, some traditions don’t need to keep repeating.