Despite the current political and social climate in the USA, I have a lot to be thankful for in 2016. From graduating to moving to Spain, there has been a lot of change this year. A big change from last year is that I will be spending many US holidays abroad. Spain celebrates Christmas, New Year's and Easter, but others like Kwanzaa and Thanksgiving aren't common and Halloween was a bit different too. I won't be at home until June so luckily, I've met some great people to bring that family vibe to me.
First off, Halloween in Spain is not the same. Yes, they celebrate it, but they only do the scary version. For instance, myself and another auxiliar dressed up as princesses and they were confused because Spaniards don't do "fun" costumes like fairies or characters from television shows. They wear zombie, skeleton, vampire, etc. costumes with blood and gore, go to haunted houses and trick-or-treat. A friend hosted all of us Halloween-crazed people at her apartment and made cute Halloween-themed food. There was Halloween music too and a lot of Spanglish! Back home I don't celebrate Halloween full out every year, but not having the Halloween decorations and costumes plastered everywhere in stores made me miss it.
The closer it got, the more I wanted Thanksgiving food! Another friend hosted everyone in her apartment and we crammed into her living room, stuffing our faces and talking about our week. After a few video chats with my mom I decided to make candy yams for the potluck and it felt good to hang out with friends and eat tasty dishes people made for dinner. There was macaroni and cheese, broccoli casserole, corn casserole, cranberry sauce, wine and more. I had a serious food coma when I got home. In addition to the history behind Thanksgiving (the genocide of Native Americans), being away from family and reading about the Dakota Pipeline Protests at Standing Rock made it more difficult to get excited. It's a tradition and holiday I celebrate, but not being in the U.S made me realize even more how much I don't celebrate the history. At all. My family and I focus on being thankful for what we have in spite of it everything that's going on around us. We eat good food, laugh, and enjoy each other's company, similar to what my friends and I did yesterday. Still, Thanksgiving history shouldn't be repeated so #NoDAPL.
My first Thanksgiving and Halloween abroad were successes! Holidays are prime time to get homesick, so I am truly thankful for the friends I've made in Logroño. We rely on each other to vent, struggle in Spanish, travel etc. and that's a nice community to have abroad. Thanksgiving is more important than Halloween and due to my friends it felt a lot less lonely. There was no big turkey in the middle of the table, no dressing, no greens or no kids running around the house, but it was the best substitute I could have had this year.
How would you cope with celebrating important holidays abroad?
I'd rather splurge on a good meal than a nice hotel, wine than water and plane tickets than club covers. Traveling and eating are my two favorite things, so follow my journey to see where I go and eat next! I'm just living my best life.