well feliz día de la acción de dar gracias! it is sort of strange being in a place that doesn’t celebrate one of my favorite days of the year, but actually kind of exciting because for once i am the one who gets to teach everybody about my traditions. to make today as authentic as possible i’m taking command of the kitchen and yes, i do plan on streaming the macy’s thanksgiving day parade, thanks for asking!
so a little side story before i jump right into my list. there is this store in alcalá called “taste of america”. it is full of american novelty items, and all the spaniards like to go visit “tah-stay” to look around like it is a foreign museum, then buy overpriced milano cookies. it’s great…. (but if america just tastes like froot loops, poptarts, and easy cheez…. well, i’m embarrassed.)
pilar has been telling me for the last two months that she wanted me to go with her to the store so i could tell her what was good to buy. yesterday we made our way over to buy some canned pumpkin so i could make that foreign thanksgiving meal. as we walked through the store, pilar marveled over everything as i tried to explain maple syrup, bagels, cream of mushroom soup, and canned fruit filling to her.
as we shopped, i sensed the owner following us around (his american sense tingling, i’m sure)… probably hating me as i bashed his selection and prices. (a bag of chocolate chips for 6 euros? that’s like 8 usd! get outta town!)
we managed to make it out with four cans of pumpkins (pilar REALLY likes those magical pumpkin cookies i made), curry powder, ground ginger, milano cookies, and frozen bagels (which she just can’t quite figure out how to prepare…).
as we were checking out, the owner came right up to me carrying a box labelled THANKSGIVING DAY, and tried to sell me an all inclusive thanksgiving dinner complete with a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy. i just smiled and told him that we didn’t need enough food for eight people- there were only three of us! but really in my mind i wanted to say, “no thanks, dude- i don’t want your freeze dried turkey, granulated potatoes, and powdered gravy. and no, we don’t want to save it for christmas, either.”
ANYWAY that was a major tangent! what i’m trying to say is that i love thanksgiving, and i’m especially grateful this time of year for a some really great things. so here’s my thankful list: spain edition.
1. i am thankful for public transportation. sure the waiting sucks, but i wish it was a thing world-over. being able to just jump on t
he bus, the train, or the metro to get places and not have to worry about parking, losing keys, buying gas… it is awesome.
2. i am thankful for a host family who cater to my every want. fernando and pilar. i can’t even begin to talk about how great they are! pilar is always coming up with some new vegetarian thing for me to eat, fernando is always scolding me for eating to fast, then then telling some saying or joke that i only half understand (but laugh anyway). they love teaching me about spain, learning new things about america, and buy me anything i want. it is like being an only child, and i am spoiled. (but then again… i did pay them over two grand to do so… ha!) i will be really sad to leave them when the time comes (pilar just tells me not to think about it).
3. i am thankful for my church and the youth program. it is the same the world over, and for this i am thankful. i am so thankful for the institute program, the youth program, and people who serve in callings to teach and put up with this random american girl who comes to class every week. i’m so grateful for all the cool kids i’ve met, and they’re friendly, even when i can’t figure out how to draw a mousepad during pictionary (we won anyway! i’m a good luck charm, ya see).
4. i am thankful for pilar’s expert laundry skills. she washes my laundry every few days, then folds it meticulously. it is like a work of art- i mean, i don’t even want to wear it it’s so pretty! not only that, but she sews up holes in my leggings and changes my sheets all the time… the lady knows what is up.
5. i am thankful that my brain can understand this language. sometimes it is really hard and a lot of times i mess up royally, but overall people understand me and i understand them. we can joke together. i can explain myself. i can curse when i can’t figure out anything else to say. it is great.
6. i am thankful to be able to hang out with my best friend in spain. seriously though. having no one who really gets you and understands your american jokes would be tough! spain wouldn’t be fun without diana. i mean, who can say they went all over europe with their best friend? not many…
7. i am thankful for the opportunity to travel. i look at myself near every day and think, “alyssa you are dang lucky to have this opportunity!” being able to live in a foreign country, do what i want, study what i want, and live this culture… there are not many people that get to do this, and even less that get to do so twice!
8. i am thankful for parks to run in and vases i can use as kettlebells. so not having a gym membership here makes for some really interesting workouts… so for that i am thankful for the bountiful parks and places to run here in spain, as well as the falling leaves and beautiful fall weather. also, i owe my life to body weight workouts, burpees, and pilar’s vases, which i like to swing as kettlebells when she isn’t home. (and my biggest fear is that one day she’ll walk in and see me doing so. i mean, i don’t think i could even find the words to explain myself in english!)
9. i am thankful for my iphone. seriously, i don’t know how i could live without this thing. the other day at church we were doing some activity where everyone shouted what things you’d want on a desert island. people shouted out things like: books! a compass! a telephone! music! friends! i just wanted to shout out IPHONE! because, really that little contraption has everything. heck, right now it doesn’t even have any service, but the fact that i can use it to read my books, to listen to my podcasts, communicate with my family at home via facetime, chat with friends via imessage… i love technology.
10. i am thankful for my american citizenship. so…in my humble opinion, the national government here is a joke. a joke! there! i said it! watching the news every day and seeing the dysfunctional leaders and unrest really just makes me happy that i come from a place with some degree of stability. i’m thankful to come from a country that tries to help others and serve as a model of freedom. say what you want about our president, but everyone here thinks he is great and envies our ability to run a democracy. i am often told that things would be better if “presidente obama” would come over and govern for a little bit. ha. but really.