Pass the Turkey, Hold the Cranberries

26 Nov

For lunch today, I ordered a turkey wrap at the school gym.  Pretty standard, really.  Turkey, cheese, mayo, lettuce, and tomato.  Just a few months ago, this would have been nothing to write home about.  People eat turkey wraps all the time, and for someone like me, who doesn’t really like chicken, turkey is pretty much the only way to go for a non-vegetarian wrap.  In Greece, they don’t do turkey.  The only turkey I’ve seen for the past few months is processed lunchmeat.  They have chicken, or kotopolo, everywhere, but turkey?  Not so much.  I actually don’t think I’ve had one bite of turkey since August.  But today, that streak ended.

Sure, there was still school today.  I got up, edited essays, observed and taught classes, made copies, attended assemblies and department meetings.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  It’s strange to think that back home people are just now beginning to wake up, turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and start stuffing the turkey and baking the pumpkin pie.  HAEF (my school) is the Hellenic AMERICAN Educational Foundation, and so they do put lots of emphasis on Thanksgiving.  For the past few weeks now, students have been attending special presentations on Thanksgiving and preparing for the Thanksgiving assemblies.  High school students put on a bake sale and talent show, with all proceeds going to charity.  Middle schoolers learned about Thanksgiving traditions throughout the world.  Tomorrow, Friday, they have the day off in honor of Thanksgiving.  Nevermind that tomorrow is NOT Thanksgiving.  The kids don’t care, they just like the idea of a three-day weekend.  The teachers couldn’t really care less either.

Except for the American staff.  At my weekly department meeting today, one teacher made a pumpkin cheesecake (it was delicious).  Another confided that she missed her family and her home.  The fellows are currently trying to plan a Thanksgiving feast to find some way of celebrating.  We even have the Stove Top to prove it.  But for the larger population in Greece, Thanksgiving goes way under the radar.

And so I’m making it my mission to celebrate this day, one of my favorite holidays and times of year, in my own special way.  So I bought a turkey wrap.  It doesn’t look THAT appetizing, but it’s better than the ham and cheese pizza, the cheese pie, or the spanikopita.  It may not be a feast, and may not have any of the traditional partners-in-crime (sweet mashed potatoes – you are surely missed), but it’s something.

And in honor of Turkey Day, I’m doing what any Thanksgiving-loving American in Europe in would do to celebrate.  I’m going to Turkey!  Yes, I know, the holiday has nothing to do with the country, but like I said before, it’s something.  So maybe I had to work today, and maybe I missed out on the feast and the football and the parade, but for the next three days I’ll be skipping around Istanbul, while everyone in America will be letting out their pants and avoiding the scale.  Maybe there is a small plus side of missing an American tradition?

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One Response to “Pass the Turkey, Hold the Cranberries”

  1. G & G November 27, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    Allyson: We had all the trimmings at Mom and
    Dad’s but the most important main event was missing. That was YOU. Enjoy your stay in Turkey.

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