Saturday, November 19, 2011

Making Thanksgiving Traditions from Scratch

I hesitate after scribbling the Indonesian word for green beans on my list for the market. How much will I need? One kilogram? Two maybe?

This is the third year I’ve signed up to bring green bean casserole to Thanksgiving dinner and I can’t remember how many green beans to buy. I’ve been through this each year and I wish I had written down what I did last year.

This is also the first time I’m making green bean casserole completely from scratch. In past years, I’ve planned ahead and asked friends or family or supporters to stick a can or two in a package for me. I could have done that. But I’m trying to live past the ordinary this year, past my same old way of doing things, past my fears.

So, I’m making layered cakes with fancy icings for a birthday party, and spending time with a witch doctor and her daughter, and asking questions I’ve always wondered.

And now I’ll scour the Internet for a recipe that uses ingredients I can get here to make a nice, creamy sauce for my green beans bought from the outdoor market on my small island.

I started my sweaty cooking last week, baking rolls enough for the 13 MAF families who will join together for a Thanksgiving potluck dinner. We’ve made our own traditions in this country that doesn’t celebrate our American holiday; where no football team is playing on the television; where my trees bloom pink in the 90 degree tropical heat; where we’ll eat chicken instead of turkey.

And though I miss family, really miss them during the holidays, I am learning to embrace, enjoy, and celebrate these special years where we give thanks with friends who become family in a foreign country that is becoming home.

These years are hard and things break all the time in our house and I rarely sleep through the night with all the sounds inside and out. And I miss wearing sweaters and feeling cool fall breezes and jumping in piles of brown crunchy leaves.

But I know my friend, Kathy’s special pumpkin pie recipe. And I love playing the sentence game that my friend, Natalie, introduced to us. And I sit across the table with collection of fake-fall leaves spread over the table with friends who join me in Living for More in a World of Less.

And I am thankful, really thankful for the good things that I experience in this life here, for the lessons learned through the trials, and for a chance to make both green bean casserole, and special traditions, completely from scratch.

photo credit, whitneyinchicago

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