Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Belated Thanksgiving

We celebrated two amazing Thanksgiving celebrations this year, but I have to say that it was the one that was with our small group from church that will really stick with me.  Between the excitement over candied yams, paper hand turkeys, and a never-ending game of mafia, it was a great night.   There is something about celebrating American holidays with people from other cultures that makes it so fun.  Our small group of British students and young adults was no different.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last year, but I think there was even more of a buzz this year about it.  They knew what to expect and embraced it for the wonderful holiday tradition it is.  Each person who came brought some sort of authentic American dish.  I have to say, they did a great job!  Everything was so delicious.  Especially those candied yams…and I don’t even like sweet potatoes!

Before dinner was ready, everyone took a paper cutout of my hand and drew their own turkey.  The winner would be first in line for dessert.  You can imagine how fierce the competition was.  Once dinner was ready, all 18 of us gathered around a huge table and joined hands as Ben prayed a prayer of Thanksgiving.  Knowing this could be the last time we celebrated Thanksgiving with our small group made me a bit more nostalgic than normal.  I love these kids.  Ok, they aren’t really kids at all, but I just love them all so much.  We each loaded our plates full of Thanksgiving tastiness and sat around talking and laughing together.

My end of the table was practically in tears as Ben regaled us with stories from his childhood.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and no one left the table hungry!  When dinner had finally come to an end we had everyone hold up their paper turkeys for review. There were a lot of close contenders, but Rosie’s two artistically drawn turkeys stole the show.  The American flag border really put it over the edge!  Rosie led the way through the dessert line and once everyone was seated back around the table we had everyone say something they were thankful for.  It was wonderful hearing everyone share what was on their heart.  I love that sort of thing.

I finished it off by saying how thankful I was that everyone humored me by getting so into one of my favorite American holidays.  That set off everyone chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”  Ben and I burst out laughing and I couldn’t help but smile.  It was amazing.  After the chanting died down we all cleared the table and headed to the lounge for an entertaining game of charades.  Let’s just say that I don’t think anyone could even come close to Rosie and Colin…they absolutely dominated.  We are going to have to come up with much harder ones next time…

We sat in a huge circle, drank tea, and played games for the next few hours.  It was a perfect night.  As I looked around the room, I couldn’t have been more thankful.  This time of year it isn’t easy to be away from family, but they make it a bit more bearable.  If nothing else, they keep me laughing.  Thank you to all of you who made the night so great, and an even bigger thank you for allowing us to be so much a part of your lives.  You mean the world to us.


Belated Thanksgiving

This is one of my favorite seasons of the year.  Halloween kicks off the fall with pumpkin carvings, crisp nights, and cozy fires.  Thanksgiving rolls around and I am practically giddy with joy.  I love the food, the snow, the festivities that bring all those you love together.  It truly is a time to be thankful.  The fall season builds in wonderful anticipation for the pinnacle, the celebration of the birth of my Savior.  I find myself getting more and more excited as the weeks go by and my heart seems to be constantly drumming out a beat of thankfulness.  This season just brings an immense amount of peace and joy to me.

I spend a lot of time at bus stops.  Probably about an hour a day.  So I stand there every day in the FREEZING cold, wrapped in layers of scarves, mittens, and hats, headphones in, just smiling to myself.  It is pitch dark when I go home and pretty cold, but most nights, I am pretty content.  Not just content, I am really, really happy.  I am headed home to a husband I love and on a lot of nights, I get to look forward to spending time with people I love here in Cambridge.

We had a pretty amazing Thanksgiving this year.  That is partially because we had two of them!  We hosted Thanksgiving day at our new flat this year (and amazingly fit 14 people around our make-shift table!!) and it was wonderful.  Everyone brought a dish or two and it was a night just spent sitting around the table chatting and connecting…wo things I love to do.  Then just a few days later we hosted another Thanksgiving at the home of some of dear friends here in Cambridge. We had a large group of British students (21 to be exact!) who for the most part had never had an American Thanksgiving.  We assigned each of them an American dish and it was fantastic.  Both Thanksgivings were filled with fun, A-mazing food, and lots of wonderful conversation.  They were two very special Thanksgivings.

This Thanksgiving made me a bit more reflective and as I looked back over the last 6 months or so, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming blessed.  Here are some of the things that came into my mind.

1. Our siblings weddings.  It wasn’t just the weddings of Zach & Stephanie, and Alex & Rachel, it was everything leading up to those beautiful days.  It was precious time with our families and their closest friends.  The four weeks we were in the states this summer will be some of the most memorable four weeks of my life.  Our friendship with our siblings is one of the greatest joys of my life.

2. My friend Cassie spending her savings to come and see me!  The two weeks that Cassie was here were beyond fun.  It was a whirlwind tour of Cambridge, London and Paris and my goodness it was a blast!  Getting to show one of my dearest friends around this beautiful city and just see our life here was so special.  She is one of those friends that just warms your heart.

3. Our brief but wonderful night with Sarah and Mark in London.  One of my old co-workers from PDS was in London for a few days and she and her husband invited us down for dinner.  We met up with them and enjoyed one of the most amazing meals I have had in England.  We ate at this absolutely phenomenal Moroccan restaurant (and I mean phenomenal) and spent the night just catching up, marvelling over how tasty the food was, and just sharing our lives with each other.  I have been so blessed by Sarah as she has made such an effort to stay in touch despite the distance.  The night was wonderful and is one that I think back on a lot.

4. The group of university students and older youth that we meet with.  We started meeting with these students about three months ago and they have just taken up residence in my heart.  They are such a joy to be around and I feel so blessed that we get to be a part of their lives.  The joy and laughter they bring into our home each Wednesday is something I look forward to each week.

5. Dream opportunities.  I never would have thought that I would have so many opportunities come my way that would make my dream career become more of a reality.  I have a good job, but it is what I do outside of work that makes me come alive.  I love planning events and connecting with people and I have been given amazing opportunities to that this fall.  I am so grateful to God for the way he makes un-realized dreams come true.

6.  Our parents.  I feel so fortunate to have the parents that we have.  They have become some of our closest friends and it has been such a joy to see how our relationships have grown in closeness since we have moved here.  We have gained a new appreciation and love for our parents being so far away.  I have felt especially blessed by the ways they have shown us love since coming here.  My dad has written me encouraging Facebook messages and sends me links to things that remind him of me.  Ben’s parents have recently sent us a box of American food that filled us more excitement than just about any other gift we could have received!  My mom has sent me the most amazing letters and cards that leave me feeling so special and loved.  We are truly blessed by the love and generosity of our families.

7. I have a great boss.  For those who know me, you know I haven’t had a great working experience here in the UK, but the redeeming factor has been my boss.  She is by far the best boss I have ever had.  She knows how to get the best out of me, and how to motivate me.  My job and salary are not ideal, but when you have a great boss, those things aren’t quite as important.  I am gaining new skills and being given opportunities that she knows I will be excited about.  That just doesn’t happen every day and I am really grateful for her.

8. My amazing husband.  There is nothing like two weeks apart that makes you acutely aware of how crazy you are about your spouse.  I don’t let too many days go by without telling Ben how much he blesses my life, but two weeks apart makes you aware of other things you are grateful for.  I am thankful for the humour and laughter he brings to my life.  I am thankful for how reliable and constant he is.  I am thankful for all the small ways that he tries to serve and care for me.  He makes me feel like a cherished gift.

9. A renewed sense of conviction.  We have been challenged a lot in our faith since coming here and we have spent countless hours talking through why we believe what we do, and why we hold certain convictions.  There are some areas where my convictions have lessened (rightly so I believe) and others where they have gotten stronger.  I am grateful for all the ways God has grown me, and I am so thankful for His closeness and nearness.

I could keep going, but I am guessing that most people have stopped reading by this point anyway.  Thanksgiving is a special time to reflect on how God has moved in our lives and all the ways He has blessed us.  I pray my heart would always see the beauty of our Lord and that it would rejoice in the goodness that flows from His hand.  Here are a few photos from the last few weeks…

Thanksgiving Week Challenge

For obvious reasons, the United Kingdom does not celebrate the American Thanksgiving.  Strangely enough, however, the preacher at our church today encouraged us to spend the week trying a thanksgiving experiment.  When we pray this week, we’re only going to pray prayers of thanksgiving.  No requests, no petitions, just saying thank you to God.  We’re not sure if the pastor realized that it was the week of Thanksgiving in America.  If he did, he didn’t mention it.  But given the timeliness of the message, we decided to give the pastor’s suggestion a try.  Giving thanks seems like a fitting way to celebrate Thanksgiving.  We’ll see how it goes!