Thursday, 27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving wherever you may be

Living outside of the United States, I have to cobble a Thanksgiving dinner out of whatever I can find that's closest to the original thing. My local British grocery store carries stuffing and cranberry jelly and I can find plenty of turkey in the German ones. Luckily I stocked up on canned pumpkin last time I was stateside. (Word of warning: airport security loves canned pumpkin in suitcases!) As I don't have time for a big dinner, this is pretty much the extent of our celebration, other than my Tom Turkey here.

I don't live in a disneyfied German town. This is a living, evolving area -- ruined by war, rebuilt, and rebuilding -- wedged between the industrial Rhineland and the forever flat Dutch farmlands. This is a borderland, a limbo, not quite onething and still quite influenced by another. So am I -- not quite fully American, nor European, nor Carribean whatever my passport might say. My mother always said I was more British than American and friends say, with some surprise, that I don't fit their ideas of what Americans are. "Canadian?" some quiz, or stranger yet, "Australian?"

I bet if you asked those ubiquitous pilgrims who they were when sat down to give thanks, they would've declared that they were proudly English, despite religious persecution and alienation from their homeland. Were they the same people they were before they set out on their now mythologized journey? Had strife, hard work, and contact with new cultures, new views, and new priorities changed who they were? Without a doubt. They had a new citizenship as colonists, expatriates in a new world.

In a distant and modern way, I've followed in the spirit of those footprints. I've left my homeland and have become an expatriate and a member of a growing global society. I love my homeland and I celebrate the traditions and uniqueness of my host countries, but this Thanksgiving I am giving thanks for the hardships and good fortune that has made me what I am today -- an expatriate enjoying an exciting world; an expatriate not quite one thing and very much influenced by another.