Happy Thanksgiving from Spain everyone! ESDES was kind enough to give us the whole day off of classes and we got to have a huge Thanksgiving dinner, making my first Thanksgiving away from home absolutely wonderful. 

We've been working on prepping the food for our Thanksgiving dinner all week. I volunteered to help with the food committee and we started cooking on Monday. The menu included mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, salad, and apple and pumpkin pie for dessert. Monday we cooked for about four hours, cutting up pumpkin/gourds for pie, rolling out pie crust, and chopping sweet potatoes. Wednesday we spend almost five hours cutting onions and celery, making corn bread, finishing the sweet potatoes, and chopping what seemed like a hundred million green beans.

I started my own Thanksgiving celebration Wednesday night by watching Dan in Real Life and sleeping in Thursday morning. I helped in the kitchen all morning, mincing 130 cloves of garlic and chopping even more onions. Needless to say, my hands still smell. It was so worth it to have food that was actually salty though! Other Thanksgiving day activities included some girls who ran a "turkey run" and a game of football Americano. I missed the game since I was cooking, but those of you who know me will know that it really didn't affect me. When everyone came in the caf for lunch, we took a break to eat. One of the guys who organized the football announced that they had forgotten to sing the national anthem before the game so we all stood up in the caf and sang it together. It must have been strange for the kitchen crew to see us all drop everything and sing, but it was such a reminder of home and brought tears to my eyes. 
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Hannah and 130 minced garlic cloves!
I had to teach in the evening at five, but not to worry, Thanksgiving dinner wasn't scheduled until 7:30. I was talking to my monitor, Petar, about how we usually eat Thanksgiving "dinner" around 2 or 3 PM. He told me, "You get American food but you get it on Spain time!" which was so true. I got done teaching at six and headed back to the dorm to get ready since dinner was a very formal affair. Think academy banquet. Even though banquets sometimes have the connotation of being lame, this was so much fun! We were so delighted to have food that tasted like home and to be all dressed up and enjoying the musical stylings of our very talented students. Our teachers all came and brought their families and wished us a happy Thanksgiving. 

The evening started with a play put on by the Teatro Clase, which was a funny rendition of the story of the pilgrims and the indians in Spanish. I'm not sure why but it struck us all as hilarious to see everyone acting it out in Spanish. The class did a great job and all were entertained. Finally, we got to eat! All the teachers got to go first and we observed that they all got normal-to-small sized portions while we were loading up on flavorful mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. There was plenty to go around and we are hoping the caf gives it to us as leftovers today!
The best part of the evening, however, was not the food. After we ate, Juan Antonio, the ESDES director, stood up and told us he had a special surprise. ESDES had contacted our parents and asked them to send special mail to give us during our Thanksgiving feast since we couldn't be at home with our families. In walked all our monitors and teachers with armloads of envelopes and boxes and passed them out to all. I got a card and letter from my parents and the waterworks began. Smiles and tears around the room suggested that many others were receiving similar letters.

This Thanksgiving was nothing like any others I have ever experienced. I've never had Thanksgiving dinner with so many friends all in one place, and even though I miss my family so much, I loved every minute of it. I'm so, so thankful for the new friends that I have and for the new experiences I've had with them. I am also extremely thankful for the ESDES staff who are so kind and generous and make our year in Spain so much easier. Most of all, this Thanksgiving I'm thankful for support. Without the support of my parents I would never have even considered spending a year abroad, and without their continual support I would have probably found a flight home after my first night here. Without the support of my boyfriend, Mikey, I would probably never have been able to up and leave Union and the shelter of my friends there for a whole year. I could never have arrived without the help of my Aunt Rhonda and Uncle Jesse who did so much to help Justin and I with our visas and our flights. My grandparents have also done so much to encourage both Justin and I and have always taken such interest in our lives and our studies. To all my friends, family, the Humanities division, and everyone else: Thank you. Without you, I could never be where I am right now. 
Sheri Seibold
11/23/2012 09:36:17 am

Shelby, I'm so happy you all had such a wonderful Thanksgiving day. It was so sweet of the faculty and staff to do that for you kids. And the prep for the day was quite something. This is a Thanksgiving that will go down in history for you as one of the most unique and special. You were too kind with your words on all of us back home. You know we love you so much ~ and of course miss you! Mom

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