I spent my Thanksgiving on planes riding from Houston to New York and halfway to Iceland. One of Henry’s Canadian classmates held a Canadian Thanksgiving some weeks ago and he thought it would be nice for him and his classmates to have an American one. Wanting to wait for me to be able to join, he decided on the 29th. A bit overwhelmed at the thought of meeting all of his classmates at once, I told myself it would be a good chance to just get it over with so every interaction after that would not be riddled with those awkward “oh this is all new and you’re new and everything is terrible” feelings.
What I understood but failed to really take into account was that I am incredibly jet lagged (Copenhagen is 9 hours ahead of my normal time zone) and somewhere along the way I developed a cold that is slowly but surely taking over my life. I tried very hard to be present while Henry and I navigated cooking American food in a Danish kitchen with Danish food. I had offered to make a pecan pie (my Thanksgiving specialty and truly the one thing I have quite a bit of pride in my ability to make) but that plan was thwarted when we failed to find some equivalent for corn syrup and Crisco.
I was able to piece together something close to a Mexican chili that I’ve made at home several times before and help mix together some chocolate vegan gluten-free cookie dough balls (I have no idea what to call them, but they were surprisingly delicious) before guiltily telling Henry that I had to take a nap or I might die. He didn’t seem to mind too much and I passed out almost immediately and slept deeply for some hours before I was woken by a distressed gingery man. We spent some time talking about his school and doubts about this country and before we knew it, we were behind on our cooking.
Heading back to the kitchen we loaded up the food we had, cleaned dishes and started working on an Eggplant Parmesan dish while some of his classmates came and went with our food to help set up at the school where the rest of his classmates were already gathered. Though somewhat precariously so, we were all bundled up with food and our coats as we headed out the door and biked with his lovely classmates Enni to the school. I was far behind the two skilled riders but managed to make it without falling or doing anything too embarrassing (aside from being totally winded from a 15 minute bike ride).
The school is such a strange and interesting building (I plan to go back and photograph it in the light) and we parked and locked our bikes, grabbed the food and headed upstairs. Upon entering the upstairs studio, Henry was greeted with shouts and applause (I would like to point out that this is NOT the first time I have entered a room with Henry where he was greeted with applause) and I had a moment to take in the sight before meeting anyone.
His classmates had made the studio look magical. Space heaters provided warmth, tables had been moved to form a large square with a table of candles in the center, more scattered throughout the room. Food was piled high on the bar in the corner and music was playing while some students danced next to the large windows that protected us from a storm that was starting to brew. It was so warm and cozy that I almost started to cry (helllloooo sleep deprivation) but was distracted by the introductions that started.
Everyone said what they brought as we gathered around the food and whether or not it was vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free and we dug in took our heaping plates over to the table while I wondered what it was about this program that attracted all of the non-gluten-consuming vegans. Hating to be that girl, but still feeling socially anxious, I stuck by Henry’s side as we ate. After everyone seemed to have gotten through their first helping, Henry stood and shared the tradition of saying something we were thankful for and I watched as everyone around the table shared in varying degrees of seriousness.
It’s an interesting thing, watching people say what they’re thankful for. A lot of people seemed really nervous or self conscious to share what they were thankful for in their lives; many joked, a few shared some serious things, but everyone said something. I found myself feeling very nervous as well but shared that I was thankful to be reunited with the gingery clown that I love as well as for the chance to be in Denmark and put faces to all the names I’ve been hearing about for the past three months.
We dove into a few rounds of Werewolf (also known as The Village, Assassin, and by many other names) and managed to get a few good rounds in before things deteriorated. The storm was raging outside at this point (Storm Gorm?) and we helped clean things up and put the studio back together before saying our goodbyes and heading outside.
The storm was RAGING. Winds made it too treacherous for me to try and ride, so we walked through the wind storm for about forty minutes, miserable and upset at the weather, but also amused at the absurdity of it all.
It was a lovely night. I’ve been advised by one of Henry’s teachers that afternoon naps are what make adjusting to jet lag the hardest, so tomorrow I hope to avoid that pitfall and get on some semblance of a normal schedule.