We had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday! We and another American couple had been planning this day for months now, so the anticipation was great, but it was one of those rewarding times when the actual experience exceeded the expectation of the event. Sharing with good friends who now feel like family made the sadness of being away from true family easier to take. The house was bubbling with fun conversations in every room, kids sneaking samples of the homemade candy, husbands sneaking samples of mashed potatoes or ham…and the candy!, all the girls in the kitchen chatting away and forgetting to watch the pies in the oven, dogs waiting patiently for small children to wander into their domain with an unstable grip on a fresh roll, exciting packages from relatives and friends delivered from the American visitors who just arrived (and trying not to sneak a peak at the things labeled “Wait ‘til Christmas!”).
Coming up with all the ingredients to make a Thanksgiving dinner in probably anywhere besides the United States can be an adventure and it’s no different here. We’d been gathering the supplies for months in preparation for this day, so we were really excited when all the food came out and perhaps had yet another thing to be thankful for today. Joel picked exotic tropical flowers to fill the tables so we had elegant decorations, and as our new guests continued to unpack their suitcases in all the hubbub of activity, we discovered that we even had real “Thanksgiving” napkins and even a couple cans of yams to quickly bake before the meal began — the only things that we had been missing! (Although when the meal was finished, a few people admitted they preferred the Costa Rican substitute to yams, camote, over the real thing! I’m still on the fence on that one.)
Since we live in the “country” here and have to dress for a potential adventure pretty much every day (you never know when you’ll have to get out and walk the rest of the way home!), we decided we’d play dress-up and break out the clothes that are molding away in the back of our closets. No ties, of course — those didn’t ever make it to Central America. But that was one more fun thing that made it feel like a real holiday.
Finally, after dinner, our hosts gathered everyone in the living room and Joel shared a bit about thankfulness from the Bible before we introduced the video that we had been working on for several weeks (up until late the night before) for a local woman returning to the States this weekend. She teaches English in our community to help the church she works with and that has been an incredible opportunity for the church and for the students. So, we highlighted a couple of those stories for her and produced a DVD that she can take back to the States to communicate her work here more effectively. She was moved to tears when she saw it and is excited to have such a clear explanation of her work to take home. It was rewarding to see that we had met her goals for a video to it was a good way to end the day.