Nebraskanadian on Gratitude

Nebraskanadian on Gratitude

It’s an odd thing, being an expat on a major American holiday. I’ve been here before—on Christmas day in Thailand, 1998, my visiting parents took a large group of us to brunch at the Westin, where we ate turkey and weird stuffing seasoned with Thai basil. Instead of Easter, we celebrated Songkran, the water festival, aka Pink Eye Week, when everyone in the city of 1,000,000 threw canal water at each other from water guns and moving vehicles. (No, really. Here’s a video.)

This morning in Canada feels like any other morning. It’s cold. We’re running late and I’m barking at the boys to find their hats and boots. John’s off to work and I have ten articles to copyedit. Meantime, a few hundred kilometers south, my friends and family are gathering for food and football. It’s fine, really, just strange. It doesn’t rise to the level of ennui, but I do feel a tickle of homesickness. For the background noise of the Macy’s Parade. For my mom worrying that the bird will be dry. For my brother wrestling with my sons in front of the fireplace. (Q: You want a piece of me? A: No! I want the whole thing!)

And so, on this Thanksgiving-that’s-not-really-Thanksgiving, I present my current gratitude list:

  1. I am grateful for nationalized health care and modern pharmacology.

  2. I’m grateful for texts from friends near and far, especially those that include off-color GIFs (I’m looking at you, Katie C.)

  3. I am grateful that 2018 brought us the adventure of a lifetime, moving our family to a new country, a new job for John, new traditions and slang and most of all wonderful new friends!

  4. I am grateful that we have the means to travel back home to Nebraska whenever we need to feel rooted in community.

  5. I am someone who needs to travel; too much time in one place and I get antsy. This year work and vacation took me to Florida, Colorado, Costa Rica, Georgian Bay, Chicago and Greece. That’s pretty awesome.

  6. I am grateful for babies born to friends old and new.

  7. I am so lucky to have met friends from around the world—Denmark, New Zealand, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Yemen. My life is richer for their friendship and I want to carry their stories around in my pocket as a reminder that kindred spirits are everywhere, and the moment we forget that, we are lost.

  8. I am joyful that a new puppy came into my life and began destroying our home, bite by bite.

  9. I loved almost every minute of collaborating on a book project with my brilliant mother; I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds.

  10. My three Gilliam dudes—the Rock, the Heart and the Hellion—ground me and CHALLENGE me every day. Family is a funny thing. You find each other, you work to figure each other out, you never stop surprising each other. It’s a pretty beautiful thing.

Happy Thanksgiving, dearest friends. Please eat some pumpkin pie for me!



Downtown Chios, Greece: Near the Women's Center

Downtown Chios, Greece: Near the Women's Center