I’m debating whether or not I should do Thanksgiving this year. I am invited to a friend’s Thanksgiving that I know will be uproarious and cozy and full of people. I don’t really have to do my own. Thanksgiving has been one tradition that’s stood by me in Graz.
The first year was my favourite, probably because I was most excited. I spent the day cooking, dressing the chickens and adding the finishing touches. I had willing and ready help to keep me company. In the end my guests arrived and we piled into my tiny kitchen. My mini apartment was filled to the rafters. We ate on paper plates on our knees, sitting on whatever surface was available, but the night had a special glow.
My second year was wonderful- candle-lit and filled with people. We fit at least 15 people in our living room. It was gently loud and filled with warmth and decorations. I was so grateful for that paper turkey that my mom sent all the way here. I did dishes for three days after that party, but it was worth it.
Last year we kept things small and my oven failed me. I think I made my own stress, trying to re-create that “coming home” feeling. It felt out of place to set a small table, and to me Thanksgiving should aways feel like coming home. As I start my fourth year in Graz the lines are blurring, and I am not totally sure how to lay my cards. Shake things up and have wine and Thanksgiving themed appetisers? Invite everyone and cram in? I’m not looking forward to the dishes, but I do miss cooking for a crowd.
Every year we celebrate Carnival in Graz, and every year it slightly baffles me. I love the party, I love how happy my co-workers are, I love the bright costumes and joke donuts filled with mustard. It seems like it should be my kind of holiday, but without the sentimentality of tradition I just can’t quite get a grip on it.
I just realised this must be how people here must feel about my holidays. That’s not totally true- at least one friend is looking forward to Turkey Day. I regret not taking time off for Halloween though- it rushed by and I didn’t even have time to carve a pumpkin. If I don’t honor my traditions, I feel as though I lose that piece of myself. I was raised for this- am I paying proper respect to my culture and family? I don’t want the lines to blur so much that I lose who I am, or who I was. I’m worried that as I adjust to my new home I will lose my ties to my homeland. I guess I’ll have to make that extra pie then. After three years my coworkers will be wondering where it is.