Saturday, December 6, 2008

Still Thankful

I must admit it's taken a while to feel like the holidays. The trees are still losing their leaves, it's raining instead of snowing, in the mornings it's warm enough to go without a coat, and there is a noticeable lack of holiday decorations. Oh, and of course we have end of term examinations...I've got my Maths in 10 minutes. :) But I've sung a few Christmas songs, eaten a little holiday food, and I must say that this Thanksgiving was my best ever. It began with a very cold hour of working in the greenhouse. The hose is mysteriously broken in about a dozen places, so we had to get creative (and wet) with our watering techniques. As we were warming our hands by the heater inside Velic house, one of our administrators started yelling in the administrative office and said, “Oh my gosh! STAY HERE! Don't go to the gymnasia!” We had no idea what was going on, but within five minutes hundreds of people were pouring out of the gymnasia and onto the street. I leaned out the window and yelled out at Michelle and Isa to find out what was going on...turns out there was a bomb threat, so our classes were canceled for the day. It was mass chaos and we were SO ecstatic!! I never dreamed that I would actually get Thanksgiving off of school!

I called Tessa to tell her the news and then went to Musala to wait for breakfast. It was really amusing to see the ways people reacted to the bomb threat, from some of the Western Europeans being near tears to the Iraqis cracking jokes and trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with the Westerners. Amid the general confusion, the day was declared a holiday...Bomb Day, and I was hugged and kissed many times and wished a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tessa and I were in general high spirits since we had the whole day free, so after breakfast we went for a walk and to the store for last minute supplies. At Susac, we made some peanut butter cookie dough and tried to make craft roses out of maple leaves (I StumbledUpon a website with instructions.) After gathering all the Thanksgiving supplies together, we caught a ride to Musala with the landlord. But from there, we had to carry everything to my English prof Namal's house, where the dinner was to be held. It's only about half a mile, but we must have looked quite a site carrying a turkey, 4 loaves of stuffing, cranberry sauce, cookie dough, 2 pumpkin pies, a bowl of potatoes, a pot of gravy, and various pots and pans through the center of Eastern Mostar! Unfortunately Namal was sick, but I had already done most of the cooking so Tessa and I stuck the turkey in the oven and settled down for a chat. I am convinced that Namal has the most wonderful house in Mostar...standing under the wooden ceiling beams and looking out the panoramic window, you can see a waterfall of the river, the old bridge, the cross on the hill, several mosques, the cathedral bell tower, and a whole assortment of beautiful buildings. It's really stunning, and it was a beautiful afternoon exceeded only by the beautiful evening! In the end there were 17 of us in the “family” including Namal, Tessa, and Jordanka, my maths teacher, as well as us three Americans and 11 other students. The food turned out better than I could have hoped, the conversation was lovely, the company perfect...it was incredible! It was a blast explaining where the holidays and the food come from, as it was most people's first Thanksgiving ever! Namal and Alberto did the honors for us by carving the turkey, Michael made mashed potatoes, and Tanja a lovely salad. We kept the traditions of breaking the wishbone and saying things we're thankful for before eating...it was hard to choose...there's so much!

I warned everyone ahead of time about the sedative effects of a real Thanksgiving dinner, but I don't think they believed me until we all collapsed in a lethargic state as if we had been drugged. :) The evening was finished off with some tea and a walk back to Susac. I really didn't want it to end.

Over the next couple of days our lives got pretty crazy, but for that night at least, we had peace and companionship and life was beautiful. I have so much to be thankful for.


Align Center
"Hiding" from the bomb during a very chaotic and improvised breakfast in Musala.

Breaking the wishbone and carving the turkey.

The aftermath of the dinner.

Our Thanksgiving family...sorry it turned out dark!