Thanksgiving 2014

pecan, pumpkin, and apple crumble

I am at that point where I all I can think about is the sadness of leaving Peru. That is a really miserable place to be. It isn’t constant, but it hits quite frequently now. My kids will move in less than a month. That is crazy. And I don’t want to think about it, but I have to.

This marks our last Thanksgiving in Peru. We have spent 6 Thanksgivings here. Our dear sweet Manuela has spent every single Thanksgiving with us. This year, with the new families present, we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving as a team on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (which is tomorrow). When I told Manuela this, her facial expression told all. She was truly bummed. So since she works for us on Thursdays, I decided to make a Thanksgiving meal for just our family and include her. It was so special to celebrate with some of our favorite family dishes and share them with her. And she kept telling me “thank you” over and over again.

Some of my family was together on the actual day, and I am always sad to miss out on family gatherings, but I dealt with it okay. We have made our own Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions here in Peru with our children and with our team. It seems normal now to be away from home, even if it still makes me sad to miss out on being with them. Yesterday, as I was preparing the food, I reflected on missing home and how I felt compared to years past. I vividly remember bawling my eyes out as I cooked by myself that first Thanksgiving there in our first apartment in Yanahuara. I also happened to be pregnant with Maggie, but if you know me, I cry easily when I am not pregnant. I missed being with siblings and parents terribly, and it makes it so much harder when you know that they are all together without you. The first holiday season was definitely the hardest. But as the years passed, it got much easier.

So this year, it is just a super weird feeling. I don’t know why we chose to move right after the holidays. It is a super emotional time without the extra emotions that come with moving from a place. Thanksgiving morning, Cohen was running a high fever and had absolutely no appetite. Ana had the chicken pox last week without the first symptoms. All the kids have been vaccinated, but we are waiting to see if Cohen wakes with pox tomorrow morning. He has consistently run a fever for two straight days now. That was bummer #1.

Thankfully, I was able to participate in our little family Thanksgiving with Manuela. I made my Granny’s yeast rolls, 2 of my MIL’s casseroles, my mom’s sweet potato casserole, and I did what was easiest and bought rotisserie chickens. I also had a can of jellied cranberry to add to the mix (that I was able to buy in the states last month) and made a pumpkin pie. We ended up watching the Macy’s Day Parade from last year (ha!), and it was a fun time even though the boy was sick.

Today, I made everything in prep for our team Thanksgiving. I was stuck at home all day with a sick Cohen… poor thing. We also had a dinner date with some of our dearest Peruvian friends, but because Cohen was still running a fever, we had to cancel. Reality set in tonight that I wouldn’t be able to take Cohen to our team Thanksgiving tomorrow which is just all around a big, fat bummer. It is our last chance to celebrate a team Thanksgiving, something we have done with the Smith family for the six Thanksgivings we have been in Peru, and I am going to miss it. As I was moping about this fact, it dawned on me that I am supposed to have a list of all my kitchen stuff ready to sell next week for people to see.

I love my kitchen. Cooking and baking is therapy for my soul, but I realized tonight that these were the last Thanksgiving pies I would be baking here. And almost all of my kitchen stuff, I will be selling in less than a month. It seems so silly, but I started bawling my eyes out that I would be losing all the stuff that created such beautiful memories for us in the form of food, hosting, and holidays. And can I just tell you that my Christmas Kenny G. music was NOT HELPING with the emotions I was feeling. Some Christmas music can be so depressing!

So… I guess it has definitely begun. The downward spiral of having to let go of all the things that have made Peru “home” over the last 6+ years. I wish there was a happy ending to this blog post, but as of now, there isn’t. I would be super joyful if Cohen just has a 48 hour bug and wakes with no chicken pox tomorrow. 🙂 Here’s to hoping.

I thought it would be fun to record some of my Thanksgiving memories from our years here:

1. The Williams spent Thanksgiving with us our first year here in Yanahuara.

2. Alfredo, who was just our language teacher at the time, invited us over to his mom’s house to have Thanksgiving with the peace corps volunteers. His mom made a big turkey, and I remember some of our language teachers coming over.

3. Cutting up broccoli for “Green Rice” made me want to vomit. I was having really bad morning sickness with Maggie our first Thanksgiving. I couldn’t stand the smell of Rotisserie chicken and I was so thankful for Larissa’s frozen fruit cups that she made (they were the only thing that sounded good to me).

4. In order to make a casserole here, there are no cans of cream of “fill in the blank.” I learned from my language teacher, Elsa, that I could buy a packet of soup mix and mix it with milk. From trial and error, I learned that one soup packet mixed with one cup of milk made something very close to cream and condensed soup.

5. I figured out how to make homemade Cheesewiz b/c of Thanksgivings here. Two of Greg’s favorite casseroles have that as an ingredient.

6. Yeast rolls always come out dry in high altitude.

7. Pecan pies have to be cooked on the stove top first, before baking in the oven, if you don’t want a Pecan Pie volcano eruption in the oven.

8. I have still never prepared a turkey. When Rachel lived here for her 2 year apprenticeship, she prepared the turkey. It was so good when she made it.

9. The Finns brought donuts to Thanksgiving when they lived here. 🙂

10. I learned that sweet potato casserole with the pecan/butter/brown sugar topping is one of Kyle Smith’s love languages. It was always a joy to hear him tell me how much he liked my casserole. (I am sending a huge casserole with Greg to the team meeting tomorrow.)

11. Larissa is an awesome Thanksgiving organizer. I also loved that we rotated back and forth from our houses like families do.

12. We invited Peruvians our second year to dinner, but that was the last because there were too many to feed. One year, we invited a bunch of our Peruvian friends to just have the dessert part. That was a lot of fun.

13. There is a large gourd here that I have used for making pumpkin puree. Last year, Adela actually sold small pie pumpkins. I learned how to make homemade pie filling while here.

14. Greg’s mom was here for Cohen’s first Thanksgiving. That was pretty special to share that with her.

15. Thanksgiving will be huge this year (fifteen adults and nine kids). Kyle is preparing a Turducken. We planned a Thanksgiving blow-out since it is our last. What a bummer that I won’t be there for it.

Thanksgiving 2014

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