All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving thanks in a strange land...

So obviously, Eastern Europe doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving. (Yes, a few friends actually asked me if they did...they shall remain nameless...and will also soon be deleted out of my life.) And since it isn't a holiday here, it was just another Thursday. It wasn't too hard since I haven't been home for Thanksgiving in about 15 years but I did miss my annual 'watch all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes in a day' marathon with my best friend, Chris. I was going to do it here but it didn't feel right without him. 
This typical Thursday was a little different though because I got to Skype with my family. I can't even tell you how much my sister's children make me laugh. They are so much fun to talk to, I forget they're teenagers in high school and college. They were at my Mom's house enjoying the traditional cinnamon roll and Borscht (which I now know is just a family recipe because actual Borscht is not NEARLY as delicious as Mom's.) breakfast that Mom puts out every holiday. After that crew left I got to chat with Mom and Leroy for a while and they caught me up on everything else. And then in the evening (here) and the afternoon (there), i FINALLY got to talk to my brother, Bob. I have barely talked to him since he dropped me off in Philadelphia 6 months ago. He doesn't have Skype, he's been switching jobs and we've had trouble connecting. So to see his face pop up on my computer screen made it an awesome day. We chatted for about a half hour. I showed off my new Russian words, which are actually swear words and I forgot that his girlfriend, Bozena, speaks fluent Russian. Whoops. She enjoyed it heartily though. It was so good to talk to him.
For the weekend, the majority of volunteers went up to the Peace Corps headquarters where they had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. However, the office building is pretty small and there are almost 150 volunteers so a few of us decided to stay here in Cahul and have a Mexican feast instead. We invited a few volunteers and some Moldovans and had a sort of anti-Thanksgiving meal. It was quiet and nice and we avoided the chaos of the Capital. 
This coming weekend we are holding a "traditional" Thanksgiving. We are holding it for our Moldovan work partners to introduce them to American customs. It's going to be a lot of work, including killing turkeys for the dinner. I may leave that one up to some others...
But it will be good for us to share some of our traditions before the Christmas season arrives. It is really nice here because there is not one mention of Christmas yet. They do not buy into the commercialism whatsoever. It is strictly religious. The majority of Moldovans celebrate on January the 7th, the Orthodox Christmas so December isn't even all that crazy. 
But I leave for Vienna in 22 days and I'm really excited to see that and Prague. We have to travel from here to Bucharest, Romania to catch our flight. I'll be using 4 currencies during the trip; Moldovan Lei, Romanian Lei, Euros and Czech Koruna. If I can survive the fraud calls from my bank who will be going nuts, I think it'll be a good trip. (Not that I don't applaud banks for being so careful with theft and fraud these days but if I call them and tell them where I'm going, do they really still have to shut my card down for 24 hours until they verify I'm the one using it, EVERY SINGLE TIME?!?!?! #firstworldproblems)
The weather is steadily getting cooler but it's still not bone-chilling cold. And that's okay. Today was in the high 50's and it was beautiful. Also just received an amazing Christmas care package from Mom including a bunch of warm clothes that are about to be desperately needed. I don't remember the last time I owned this many pairs of socks. Haven't exactly needed to lately. Am truly grateful for the box though. I'm amazed at how comforting little touches of home can make any day. That being said, I am on my way home now to have a big cup of Starbucks coffee. Thanks, Mom. 

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