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Expat Experience: Friendsgiving

When I decided to live abroad, I kind of expected not to observe holidays the same way as in America. I've been told that Americans are a exuberant bunch. I didn't believe it at first, but then again, I feel like the holidays abroad are a bit more subdued. If St. Patrick's Day isn't on a weekend, there isn't much ado. The fourth of July is just another day. Not all holidays translate but there are a few similarities. Veteran's Day coincides with Day of Remembrance. Memorial Day which in the states is in May is close to Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia.

There is no substitute for Thanksgiving however. Aside from the controversial origins of the holiday, most Americans uphold Thanksgiving as a day of family, food, and festivities. Homesickness hits a little harder on days like Thanksgiving.

I have been so fortunate to have met people who have celebrated with me both last year and this year.

Last year I had recently moved to Wellington and was staying with at an Airbnb hosted by this lovely couple. I had already come to terms that I wouldn’t celebrate in New Zealand when they realized that it was Thanksgiving. They arranged an impromptu dinner for me, with their friends. It was really sweet and I appreciated the thoughtfulness.

This year my friends organized a trip to Taylor Bay, Victoria. It was a big cabin on the water about two hours north of Melbourne. Somewhere in preparation I realized it coincided with Thanksgiving weekend. I asked and I received: Friends-giving.

Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, a few of my friends had never partaken. Some of the group had been in America for Thanksgiving and others have had American friends who’ve hosted it.

This year, those who weren’t familiar with Thanksgiving asked about some staples of the holidays I threw my faves out there and the other attendees brought their faves too. The menu was eclectic and all the more special because of it.

Turkey isn't common but someone found a Turducken?!

I made southern style potato salad (just add French's mustard and paprika haha), dressing, and cornbread. I found jiffy in the Foreign aisle of a local grocer. The mark -up is real as a box of jiffy is less than a dollar at home but it was $3 AUD here.

One of my Kiwi friends grilled lamb. An Aussie friend made his Nona's famous chicken parm. The Scott made pecan pie (and it was really good!). Another Kiwi made homemade apple pie (my fave). We had like a 6 cheese mac and cheese. Somehow in all of our planning we forgot veggies. So there were no real vegetables nut you know what... Treat yourself.

At the end of the night Thanksgiving had a few more fans and we were all thoroughly stuffed!

The weekend at the lake was awesome. In addition to the wonderful weekend with delicious food, and wonderful company I was thankful that no one was recording when I somehow 'Charlie-Brown'ed while trying to skip a rock.

Until Next Time,


PS. Also their were these gorgeous birds that the owner of the cabin left bird feed for. At first I wasn't going to go near the birds because of what happened last time, but then everyone else was doing it...

Though one bird did get a bit uppity, I didn't get bitten. So I'm also thankful for that.


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