By Annie Bennett
Making a full Thanksgiving meal for 30-plus people is hard. But when you add in a dorm-sized fridge and freezer, tiny oven, and small living space, it seems almost impossible. And to top it off, being unable to find canned pumpkin in a British grocery store makes it even more difficult. After all, what is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?
I was lucky enough to live in Glasgow, Scotland for five years while my husband attended university to become a veterinarian, while I worked as a marketing and event coordinator. We loved living in the United Kingdom. We travelled across Europe, saw the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids of Egypt and the Queen of England. It was fun, but also hard to be away from our family and friends, especially around the holidays. Lucky, we made some wonderful friends that made being away a lot easier.
My friend Heidi (whose husband was also a vet student and funny enough, is originally from Minnesota) and I would always take off from work each Thanksgiving to make the biggest turkey we could find and as many side dishes as we could, including at least two different kinds of potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin, apple and chocolate pies. And every year, my poor dad in Bismarck got a call with questions about how to cook the turkey!
Our American guests were from across the United States, and they brought their favorite dishes, including cranberries, Italian bread, devils on horseback (bacon wrapped dates), cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, roasted carrots and parsnips, Yorkshire puddings…. the list goes on and on. Our British mates would bring flowers, chocolates and wine. On our last Thanksgiving in Scotland, those same British friends brought Pavlova (a meringue-based dessert), arranging strawberries and blueberries on top to make an American flag. It was so sweet!
Although the cooking was fun and the food was delicious, my favorite part came after we ate. We sat around and chatted, and soon the music started. Out came the songs, guitars, harmonicas and even a saxophone. And without fail, at midnight, we would sing Christmas carols!
Each of our five Thanksgivings abroad were memorable, however, my favorite was the last one. Heidi and I had become pros at mastering the turkey, trimmings and pies, and I had so much to be thankful for - we had a few wonderful trips planned, my hubby had just passed his licensing exam and we were expecting our first baby. It was also bittersweet. We had grown so close to these friends, it was almost as if we were family, and created our own traditions. We all knew it would be the last time we would all celebrate American Thanksgiving with our new British tweaks on the holiday. Even now, after being back in North Dakota for four years, we still hear from our friends on Thanksgiving, especially the British ones, saying how much they miss the wonderful day. And although I couldn’t be happier to be back in North Dakota, and the celebrate Thanksgiving with my family once again, the Thanksgivings in Scotland turned into a wonderful tradition that I will miss forever.