Gratitude Friday

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US. Its the main holiday where we, as Americans who live far from our families, make the trek home, like salmon migrating to sit around a table, piled with food (mainly 37 varieties of carbs) to raise a glass and say what we’re thankful for. For most of us, it’s the only time during the year that we tell our whole family how grateful we are for them and for all they represent to us. This year, seeing my family meant a bit more than usual.

The day before, it had taken me 30 hours, door to door, to get from my hotel in Valencia to my front door north of Phoenix. There were delayed flights, like my first one from Valencia to Madrid that had me running through the Madrid airport like a mad woman shouting in every language, where I sort of know how to say ‘Excuse me!’, at the top of my lungs! ‘Pardon!’ and ‘Enschuldegun sie bitte!’ (sp?) were among them. So I was able to move the English, French, Spanish and Germans out of the way pretty easily as I darted from my arrival gate in one terminal, to the farthest departure gate in another. I had to get to Chicago. Iberia had no more flights there that day.

I only had a total of 15 minutes to accomplish it all, including getting the passport control guy to ‘just stamp my passport already’. The woman in the duty free shop looking at booze muttered something about ‘Stupid Americans’ and I would have to agree with her. My accent is terrible in any language other than my own. But my speed? I was flying. My iPhone actually gave me a warning that it wouldn’t give me notifications ‘While you’re driving’. I made it to the gate right before they shut the doors.

I have always avoided air travel the day before Thanksgiving in the US. Even for work. It’s the busiest travel day of the year and delays for weather or random flying geese, are legend. If you can avoid it, you do that at all cost. But I found myself in the fray when I landed in Chicago. And I found I LOVED IT! People flying on this day are all going to see their families. They are traveling because those at the other end are the ones they love the most, or they wouldn’t be braving airports that are packed to the gills.

And then I was in my home airport, after delays out of Chicago – finally home. Ah…my own bed. But as I lay my head on the pillow, I remembered it was Thanksgiving in a few hours, and I needed to get up and cook for our family. That’s just what you do when you’ve invited people for the holiday, before you booked your flight to Spain to take care of the business of moving there.

Six hours later, I was in the kitchen. I’m not going to say I was totally on my culinary game, but I was upright, chopping, melting butter, peeling potatoes and all the rest. The table was set, candles lit, and the food came out mostly edible – except my favorite Pomme Anna was a tad crisper than usual. I think I fell asleep at one point while tending it. I know I fell asleep playing a game with everyone after dinner. My husband put me to bed.

My Mom has been worried about this move. She’s convinced I’ll never come back.

‘Its too far and you won’t have the time to come see us.’ she said, with tears in her eyes.

But if I can travel home on the busiest day of the year to see my family and spend time with them – I can do it any day of the year. Piece of cake. Because, what I’m most grateful for this day, and every day, are the people that sit around my table and eat the dog’s breakfast of a holiday meal I cooked. People who are grateful for me too.

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