Thursday, November 26, 2009

It Just Doesn't Feel Like....

Thanksgiving to me.....

but I'm not going to let that keep me from wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

It's business as usual around here. Sort of a sad day. But I want you to enjoy every bit of your turkey, family, friends.

Happy Thanksgiving from Portugal,

And now.......from my favorite guest blogger, my husband.

It's Still Thanksgiving

Imagine having a 23 year old daughter, fresh out of college, living half way around the world in a land where virtually everything is foreign, different, and strange. It would be difficult enough seeing her go that far alone, but the desire to reach out and hug her or kiss her on the cheek must grow exponentially at certain times.

If you were in this situation, as a parent, wouldn't you want someone to be kind to your daughter or son, especially during the seasons of loneliness and depression that creep up around the holidays. If during no other time of the year, when Thanksgiving and Christmas arrive, people are vulnerable.

Separation hurts more when we notice that almost everybody we pass has a place to go celebrate, to make festive. We, as social beings, need family and friends. We desire a certain familiarity.

Do you want to spend Christmas alone in a restaurant struggling to communicate, while choking down grilled sardines or weird smelling salted cod? Without a doubt, at times, exotic can be good, but nothing beats a turkey dinner with sweet tea, topped off with banana pudding for desert. It might not be mom's, but yesterday we tried to make it as close to mom's as we could.

All of that and more, is why my wife spent all day in the kitchen yesterday, cooking, cleaning, and cooking some more. It was the day before Thanksgiving, a normal day here in Portugal, as is Thanksgiving day, but we invited three professional basketball players to spend part of the day with us. All three are Americans in their 20s, and none of them had plans for one of the most important American holidays that exists.

No, Portugal does not celebrate Thanksgiving. Most of the Portuguese folks have never heard of such a thing and when it is explained to them, we can tell that such a holiday seems a bit trivial.

So, Victor, John, and Amaka came over and ate way too much before having to go back to practice that evening. We didn't have the Macy's Day parade, neither did we have the Detroit Lions or the Dallas Cowboys, but we did have one another. We all spoke the same language and we ate familiar food. We laughed and reminisced.

They played Uno with the kids and drank fruit punch kool-aid until no white could be seen inside their mouths. When everything was said and done, we doled out more kool-aid packets of the preferred flavors, stuffed sandwich bags with homemade brownies and then loaded up the van to take them “to work.” While getting ready to go, the lamentations were both loud and heartfelt. One of the guys said that after a meal like that all he wanted to do was go back home, relax, and use the bathroom! So much for running up and down a basketball court and having someone yell at him in another language.

Coach didn't get much out of the star Americans last night, but all three of them now know that they are loved and that they have a home away from home. Mom and Dad probably won't ever read this article, but if by chance they do, I'd like to let them know that they can rest assured that we'll take care of their “young-uns” as if they were our own. Christmas is right around the corner, and they won't have to spend it alone.


Cathy said...

What an awesome thing to do! I'm glad you all had so much fun together. May God bless you!

Becka said...



Betty said...

That´s a wonderful thing you guys did! Because I know EXACTLY what it feels like to have your kid in a foreign country without family. I know what a relief it is, when someone includes them in their celebrations and you know they will not be alone.
Happy Thanksgiving!

alicia said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you! My son had fun telling our extended family about his International Fair project on Portugal, and about the awesome missionary family we met online! We are thankful for your family today! You are such a blessing to so many people.

Jill said...

I love it! I know that any Americans around can make it feel like a holiday on the foreign field. We always had friends record the bowl games and send them to us. Even if it wasn't the current game being played, it still felt more like Thanksgiving.

Dani Joy said...

You all are so special! What a blessing that you could have these ball players over. I am sure they were soooo blessed!

I know what you mean, Nina about it not feeling like Thanksgiving. I worked so hard to have the football game on Thursday night with special treats so it would feel extra special for everyone and for me too. It was nostalgic. It does get easier being away, but it´s never the same. Every year has been different for us.

Love your Christmas foto!!! Love the new look of your hair. Justin in your lap is too cute!!

Still trying to come up with a way we can get together soon!

you neighbor
Dani Joy

Amrita said...

Hi Nina, your family photo is lovely

Kelly Johnson said...

We were missionaries on Sao Miguel for 6 years. We now serve the US military in Okinawa, Japan. I was thinking this last Thanksgiving about all of the great memories. When we first arrived in the Azores, you couldn't find a turkey anywhere. Someone from Terceira flew one over to us and we shared it with the other missionaries. The second year, we invited a Portuguese family over and I had a friend mail me an oven cooking bag! You should have seen the Borges families eyes when I pulled the peru out of the oven in a bag! I started a tradition that every Thanksgiving I made pumpkin bars (pumpkin shipped to me from the states) and we would take them to our banker, give them to the bread van, the milk man, the praca man etc. It was so much fun to tell them about the dia da graca and how we were thankful to the Lord for using them to help us. I love our ministry here, but I sure do miss the Portuguese people. Praying you have a wonderful Christmas season. It should begin soon there. Thank you for sharing and bringing good memories back.