russian thanksgiving.

November 26, 2012

I worked until 7:30 pm on Thursday, November 22nd, known in the United States as Thanksgiving. Actually, it was one of the most stressful days I’ve had at work thus far. Between jetting into the center of the city for a meeting for which we were late; trying to explain that it would be extremely difficult to cover the entire discipline of Rhetoric and Composition (which as I’ve explained doesn’t really exist yet in Russia) and Writing Across the Curriculum and how to write a research paper in a four-day conference; and rushing back to my school for an appointment with a student (for which I was also late), the day felt a little hectic.

Amidst all my running around, though, I did see a real, stuffed turkey in a store window. And that seemed very Thanksgiving-y.

Actually, missing Thanksgiving didn’t feel like that big of a deal.  After all, my younger sister Alyssa did it last year in London. And if your younger sister can do something and make it seem easy, as the older sister, you’re sort of obligated to just grow up and do it. I definitely missed seeing my family and I really missed Grandma Wiseman’s rolls and Grandma Pat’s homemade pumpkin pie. But, I assume that if I ask (both on the blog and in person) and if I smile real nicely, I can have those things when I visit for Christmas. Maybe knowing I get to do Christmas makes it easier, too.

Luckily, my workday eventually ended and I got to go to an expat Thanksgiving potluck. The night before, I roasted part of a butternut squash while video chatting with my family. I had to roast it in chunks because both my oven and the one pan I own are both small. And the butternut squash was huge. No matter; I roasted the other half over the weekend and used it in soup and my apartment smelled like fall for days and I was happy. With bestie Molly’s help, I decided to make couscous with roasted butternut squash and roasted apples for the potluck.

Expat Thanksgiving potluck was great. We had most of the things you’d expect to have plus some other things–spinach salad, bread + cheese + deli meat, dressing, MASHED POTATOES, rice + mushrooms, pumpkin pie, apple cobbler and chicken (since a whole turkey was not to be found). It should be noted that I can say almost all of those foods in Russian. We accumulated enough alcohol that everyone could have their own bottle of wine. We were young PhD students and young photographers and young journalists and some of us were even young Russians having their very first Thanksgiving. And in the crowded flat with palm tree wallpaper, we talked about our jobs/projects and our families in the States and our lives in Moscow. I barely made the last metro home.

And there was no Black Friday; we just went to work. No one was trampled at WalMart in the midnight rush to get one of three $15 GPS systems for their car. Here in Russia, we just push each other into overcrowded metro cars and run out of things at the grocery store like milk. But no one ever gets trampled.

In other Thanksgiving miracles, my friend Jen had to fly to NYC to get a new visa. Okay, that’s not a miracle–it was probably frustrating for her–but she brought me back crunchy Peter Pan peanut butter.  I love it, I love it, I love it.