Happy Thanksgiving

Today’s my first Thanksgiving completely away from my family.  Or to clarify: it’s year 3, so this isn’t *technically* my first Thanksgiving away… but it is without at least one member of my family.  My mom came over in first year and my dad and sister came over last year.

This year, they’re all back in Kansas and my sister has just returned home for the first time from University.  And me?  I’m writing this from a coffee shop.  But, just because I’m alone this Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that I’m lonely.

I actually find it pretty hard to be lonely in Edinburgh… and that’s not because there are probably more skeletal remains buried beneath the city than living inhabitants.  No, I find it hard to be lonely in Edinburgh because of the history and stories surrounding everything.  That, and of course, my friends… who are truly wonderful people and I probably don’t tell them that enough.

This weekend we went to the Bothy for the last EUMC meet of the year.  We cooked up a big meal aka about 40L of vegetable soup.  We started early on Saturday morning and served up around 8pm.  It was a few days early, but being at the Bothy, cooking, and drinking mulled wine in front of the fire felt a little bit like own little Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t related to anyone there, but it felt like a little family nonetheless.  (And, yeah, sure, maybe I’m a little sentimental… but being a long way from your family around this time of year makes anyone sentimental.)

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Happy Thanksgiving.

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I was grateful for this weekend.  I had been very stressed and I was grateful for that beautiful place in the mountains.  How the sun hit the snowy peaks and how the clear the river was.  I was grateful for the stars, and how you could see Orion overhead – the first constellation my dad ever taught me.  But, most importantly, I was grateful for the stories from the people milling about and the laughter they brought with them – for the singing and the dancing and the fireworks and even the bagpipes.

If living abroad has taught me anything, it’s that the world may seem pretty big… but it’s also pretty small as well.  The places and the people may be different but the feeling of the holidays remain the same.

Thanksgiving has been and will be a day for stopping and looking at the wonderful life around you.  It’s for realising that things aren’t as bad as they seem.  It’s about giving thanks for the places you’ve been and will go and the people you’ve met and will meet along the way.

Family Visit 2k16 + Scotland Soundtrack 20

This week my dad and sister came to visit me.  It was really great to see them before exams get crazy.

They flew in early on Saturday morning and I met up with them for coffee.  I always enjoy talking history with my dad (he’s basically the reason I study history now) and while I can talk over the phone, it’s a lot nicer talking to someone in person.  Since Dad’s been retired he’s started a whole slue of building projects on the farm.  My sister, Crosby, was pretty excited to come over as well.  She’s just finishing up her Senior Year of High School and next September she’ll be starting University at Cornell College in Iowa.  She’ll be majoring in Musical Theatre and Gender Studies.

I took them to see my flat and Crosby replies with, ‘Wow your room here is just as messy as your room at home!  It even smells the same!’  Thanks Crob.

The rest of the week we tried new restaurants and coffeeshops I hadn’t been to yet.  I found some really awesome coffee shops that I’m definitely going back too.  Crosby said she drank enough hot chocolate to last the year.  We don’t let her have coffee… for good reason.

On Wednesday, I took Crob dress shopping for her Winter Formal because she ‘want[ed] to have a Winter Formal dress from Scotland that no one else will have.’ Typical.  Then we had a sisterly shopping trip aka I gave Dad a reprieve from traveling.

On Thursday, I balanced class with spending time with them.  But, I think they entertained themselves in the city… it’s hard not being able to find at least something to do here.  That evening we went shopping for Thanksgiving.  Similar to last year, when my Mom came over and cooked dinner, my Dad took up the mantle this year.

Friday we spend all day cooking and it was honestly really nice… well Dad and Crosby cooked and I peeled potatoes, played music, and hung Christmas lights.  Friday night we had a few friends over for a nice dinner.  It was really nice.

This morning while I was still passed out in a food coma, Dad and Crosby boarded their flight back to America.  I’ll see them all in three weeks when I’m home for Christmas.  My Grandmother will also be moved into the house which I’m really excited about.

So that’s a quick update about my life.  I’ve got a cold right now (typical).  And, I’m working on finishing up my last essay.  I just submitted my Human Skeleton essay on: ‘Archaeological human remains are not just another artefact’: Discuss.  Funky fresh topic I know.  The other is for Archaeology about the Traprain Law treasure and what it tells us about Roman Scotland… but that’s the last one.  Finally.  Then it’s on to revision.

My exams for the year are on the 10th, 12th, and 14th of December so probably going to freak out soon.  But then I’m back to the States on the 17th and back here by the 28th. Short visit but that’s because I’m out to the EUMC Bothy for New Years!

Anyway, it was really lovely to get to see my family in the ‘calm before the storm.’ It’s always great to see my Dad and discuss history.  Crosby is so excited for University and I’m really excited for her.

 

 

A ‘Merican Thanksgiving in Scotland

I ate so much turkey and I have no regrets.

Moving to Scotland, I knew that there would some uniquely American things that I would miss out on.  I already missed the World Series, but I was not prepared to give up Thanksgiving.

Around October, my mom emailed me asking what I was planning to do for Thanksgiving.  I thought about going out to eat, or maybe even joining the North American society… but neither of those options really seemed right.  Thanksgiving was always a time back home to celebrate family and friends.  So I emailed her back saying that I didn’t have any plans and asked to see if she wanted to come over and visit.

So, typical Mom booked a ticket the next day.

Dad kept emailing me about how excited she was to see me, and truthfully I was excited as well.  The longest time, until now, that I’d been away from home had been two weeks… it’s been three months.

Before she got here we planned out a proper Thanksgiving for Friday, November 27.  I invited a small group of friends I had gotten to know really well over the semester to celebrate – none of them were American and had NEVER celebrated Thanksgiving or more importantly made hand turkeys.

My mom got here on Wednesday, November 25.  I had class at 10, but after I dropped by Starbs and grabbed two coffees and headed over to the flat she was renting for the weekend.

My mom knitted me a blanket, guys.  Like a full sized blanket brought all the way from Kansas.

And she brought me White Cheddar Cheezits.  I actually cried while eating them.  I wish was joking.

food

I had the rest of the afternoon off, so we headed out to Asda to pick up all the things that we would need to cook a proper Thanksgiving meal.  We pulled out all the stops.  Turkey.  Mashed potatoes.  Sweet potatoes. Dressing.  Kuga.  Even a batch of vintage Sleepy Jean’s caramel.

That evening I took my mom to the Boozy Cow, a great burger joint just off Princes Street in New Town.  It’s seriously LFK in a restaurant.  Everything is serves on big platters and the walls are covered in artwork.  The TVs play Marvel movies 24/7, Captain America: The Winter Solider was playing in back and Guardians of the Galaxy was playing front.  The music is 60s, 70s, and 80s Classic Rock.

Thursday I got up early and worked on the last of my six essays, an Archaeology essay on methods of dating artifacts.  It was due today and so unfortunately, I had to work on it while she was here.  That afternoon we went shopping on Princes Street (my mom is amazing and kitted me out for climbing… stay tuned) and then to the Christmas Market.

Just a bit on Edinburgh Christmas… it’s absolutely fantastic.  Princes Street Gardens turns into a huge marketplace with a ferris wheel, skating rink, and a lot of food.  My mom was really excited to see the market and all the decorations they have been putting up all over town.  There are trees and lights everywhere – and especially in New Town it looks like the typical Georgian Christmas (probably because it actually is).

christmasmarket

Friday was the big day.  I had my last 9 AM of the year and then ran back to my dorm room to grab my Christmas sweater.  I got back to the flat where my mom was already busy with the turkey.  Friends starting coming around at 1 PM to make hand turkeys, cook, and listen to Christmas music.  We even decorated a small tree.

All afternoon everyone shared stories and made hand turkeys.

decor

I didn’t really think about it until my mom mentioned it later, but just how amazing our Thanksgiving was.

Living here and living in a more globalized world, sometimes I take for granted that I can speak with and see people from all over the world every single day.  We had seven different nationalities represented Friday with 6 from England, 3 from Scotland, 2 Kansasans, 2 Norwegians, 1 Austrian, 1 Lithuanian, and 1 from the Canary Islands!

But, I didn’t even think about that, to me they were all just amazing friends that I gotten to know over the semester.  But I guess, less than 30 years ago having people from seven different countries come together to celebrate an American Thanksgiving would have been unheard of.

It gives me some hope for this world.  That people are still able to come together, share holidays, learn about each other’s cultures.

That’s what it’s really about – understanding.

To see that we all aren’t really that different.

#ThanksgivingMiracle

group

Okay now, that I’ve sufficiently explained the true meaning of Christmas… my mom and I had a great weekend.  I showed her around Edinburgh both Saturday and Sunday.  We did more Christmas shopping in the Princes Street Gardens Market, stopped at Elephants and Bagels for a snack, and went to the Doric, the oldest gastro pub in Edinburgh, for a proper pub lunch.

 

lunch

I said goodbye Sunday night.  She had an early flight Monday morning.  It was really nice to see her and show her how I’ve been living in rainy no-sun land.  Apparently, I’ve even picked up a bit of an accent??

Dad was jealous and is asking me nonstop about my free weeks in March or April.  Yes, Dad totally come visit.  Everyone is curious about peanut butter pop-tarts.