Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving (or just a normal Thursday if you're German)

Plans to have the Internet at home were foiled once again. Now the expected date is Monday. I was hoping to be able to Skype with my family for the holiday but I will have to settle for a phone call instead.

I obviously know Thanksgiving is an American-only holiday but I guess I didn’t realize how different it would feel being here instead of back home. Even leading up to today, there were no turkey sales or cranberry sauce displays, no cartoon turkeys hung around the grocery stores. It’s just another day.

Last Thanksgiving we were newly-engaged and our moms were meeting for the first time in Florida. His mom flew down from Minnesota and my mom picked her up at the airport a day before we arrived.  They got along like old friends and we were all very happy to be spending the holiday together. It was very relaxing sitting on the back porch sipping wine, sharing stories, and becoming a family. We certainly didn’t know then that we would be so far apart during the next Thanksgiving.

Any other year, delightful aromas emanating from the kitchen would cause me to wake up and begin the countdown to lunchtime. This year my husband went to work and I am meeting him for lunch. Then I will return home to begin cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time on my own. I never imagined I would be undertaking this without guidance from my mom. I’m also missing the noise and laughter from my brother and sister and the occasional drop-ins from extended family members throughout the day.

Of course, making Thanksgiving dinner in Germany is accompanied by other unique challenges. The ovens here are very small compared to the ones in America. My roaster won’t even fit into the oven completely unless I turn it at an angle. Because of this, we are just having a small turkey this year and I guess that makes sense anyway since there are only two of us.

Since we’re on the topic of kitchen appliances, I promised to tell you about my first time using the dishwasher. I used Google Translate in order to read the settings. The rough translations are: Normal with Fast Forward, Normal without Fast Forward, Fast Program, and Short Coils. Coils?

Trying my best to understand, I decided to go with Normal without Fast Forward. Each of the settings is accompanied by a letter (Normal with Fast Forward- A; Normal without Fast Forward- B; and so on). I turned the dial to ‘B’ and pressed the power button. Nothing happened. I cranked the dial all the way around and back to ‘B’ and pressed the button once more. Again, nothing happened. I made sure the door was entirely closed and tried the button one more time. This resulted in silence. I called my husband into the kitchen for reinforcement.

“Okay,” I said. “I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.” I went through the whole process, this time with my husband supervising. He agreed that it seemed like I was doing what makes sense.

He proceeded to open and close the door a few more times, applying different amounts of force each time and ending every try with a press of the button. We were perplexed.

Frustrated, I exclaimed, “Great! I’m just going to have to call Arndt again and when he comes over he’s going to stand here in the kitchen and stare at the dishwasher with me, just like we did with the washing machine last week. Why can’t this just be easy?!”

With that last desperate question, I shoved the door closed, pressed the button, and the dishwasher miraculously lurched to life!

We turned to each other, shrugged, and then left the kitchen. All of the dishes came out clean and spotless. Perhaps the trick is getting angry, yelling, and punching the door. I guess I’ll find out later today when I wash the dishes from Thanksgiving dinner.

 I hope your Thanksgiving is happy and wonderful, filled with football and family and lots of great food.

Today (and every day) I am thankful that we can still communicate despite the distance separating us. Happy Thanksgiving!

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