For the millions of American citizens living abroad, Thanksgiving is tradition that can be extremely hard to celebrate in the many countries around the world where turkey is not traditionally eaten or where “pumpkin pie” does not translate into the local language. The third Thursday in November, therefore, can often be a sad day for expats who feel farther than ever from the home front. A November without Thanksgiving is a challenge to our Americanism, and just the idea of missing out on the celebration can lead to a feeling of cultural and traditional void that challenges our prideful and patriotic mindset.
This year in Luxembourg, no such cultural void was felt by any of the American Fulbrighters, thanks to Mr. Pattarini. The U.S. Public Affairs Officer who also answers to the name of “Fulbright Dad” graciously invited my fellow Fulbrighters and I to his house to celebrate the holiday with his family and colleagues from the embassy.
Today went down in history as one of the most memorable Thanksgivings of my life. We started the festivities à la européenne with various French cheeses washed down with Luxembourgish crémant. Between the networking, catching up, and travel stories from around the world, it was not difficult to see and feel all that we are so thankful for this season. The meal ended with [multiple] slices of Pumpkin pie made by Dan’s son, who also serenaded us in preparation for his upcoming role as Jean Valjean in his high school production of Les Misérables.
The celebration of Thanksgiving took on a whole new meaning for me this year. Surrounded by my Fulbright colleagues, Mr. Pattarini’s beautiful family, and American Foreign Service Officers who have spent their careers around the world promoting peace and prosperity between their host countries and the U.S., we truly felt “at home” on this special day.
I arrived to the dinner feeling extremely thankful for the occasion to eat turkey, mashed potatoes, and [two slices] of pumpkin pie, but left with a new appreciation and pride for our country and what is means to share American values abroad.
Zachary Jones is a 2018-2019 American Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Luxembourg. A graduate of State University of New York at Fredonia, he is spending the academic year teaching English at the Lycée de Garcons Esch-sur-Alzette and the University of Luxembourg. Articles are written by Fulbright grantees and do not reflect the opinions of the Fulbright Commission, the grantees’ host institutions, or the U.S. Department of State.