The first year after we moved to Sweden, when I was hugely pregnant with Martin, we had Thanksgiving in our apartment, with my mom and Anders' family, who had never been subjected to traditional American Thanksgiving food before and didn't quite know what to make of the stuffing or the pumpkin pie. After that, I had met friends and joined the AWC and the following year, in our new house in Flyinge, we started what would become an annual tradition, with our best friends, all couples in "mixed" marriages or friends through the club.
That means we've been celebrating our Friendsgiving for 23 years. We've built a new house and had 2 kids, and changed jobs and we've seen friends come and go over the years. Last year, due to COVID, we cancelled the big celebration and only had my two best friends over for dinner. This year, one friend from earlier days decided that they no longer wanted to be included, even though they had initially accepted the invitation. They backed out when I dithered about their later request to bring the boyfriend of one of their daughters. We were at 27 people at that point, and we were already worried about how we were going to seat that many. We did say yes, figuring we'd just have to live with the chaos this year, but then they decided to back out. To be honest, it was fine. I was initially a bit taken aback, but the friendship with that particular person had been eroding for years, and it was time for closure.
So, we were going to be 23 people altogether, though at the end two kids of two different families ended up not coming and we were a very manageable 21 yesterday. We rented 2 tables and 12 chairs and set them up along with our dining room table in the big room. Martin and I cleaned during last weekend so we only had cursory tidying and final prepwork to do yesterday. Anders spent the entire day cooking turkeys (3) and then making mashed potatoes and gravy. Our friends started arriving at 6 pm and the house was soon filled with the bubble and laughter of people who have not been able to all be together for 2 years.
Of course, as per my usual living in the moment, I didn't take a single photo the entire day or night. Lame! We had Angie, Kristian, Alex, his girlfriend Rebecca, Kaisa, Debbie, Ola, Camilla, Emily, Pema, Suzanne, Karolin, Barbara, Paul, Kathryn and Nicky as well as the four of us and Karin's friend Elsa (who was new to Thanksgiving). Only Eva (Barbara's daughter) and Alexander (Suzanne's son) were missing.
On the table, along side the turkeys and potatoes, we had sweet potato casserole, stuffing, dressing, green bean casserole, cornbread (regular and blue corn) and later pumpkin pies with whipped cream and raspberry/blueberry crumbles with vanilla ice cream. We all ate ourselves into uncomfortableness; everything was SO GOOD.
Emily and Pema were the first to leave at 10 pm, and then most everyone else cleared out over the next half hour, leaving just us and Elsa, Debbie and Ola and Camilla to move to the living room and talk and laugh for another hour or so. It was lovely. At one point, Camilla invited us all to dinner at her place during the upcoming mellandagarna (the week between Christmas and New Years) and we decided on December 29, and all of us pulled out our phones to add the event to our calendars.
"What time?" I asked.
"5 or 6," answered Camilla.
"17 noll noll," I said, typing in 5 pm in military time into my calendar.
"No, 6 pm," said Camilla.
"16 noll noll," I said, without skipping a beat or lifting my head.
"NO NO NO!" cried everyone, "SIX PM!"
"18 noll noll, "I said, still not looking at my phone, at which point everyone burst into laughter and Debbie said, "THIS is why I avoid military time!"
Later that night, long after midnight, and after I had driven Karin and Elsa to Lund and dropped them off, while Anders and Martin were cleaning up and stacking chairs and table, and after I had finished putting everything else away and we moved our dining room table back into place and put all the chairs back around it, and Anders and I had gone to bed and were lying there dozing off, I started giggling and couldn't stop. I was thinking about that 16 noll noll and it struck me as super funny all over again.
This morning, we all slept in, and then Anders put dishes away and loaded up the rentals into the car. We had turkey sandwiches for lunch, and then he drove off to return everything dropping off Martin at work on the way. He's on his third shift, working kitchen prep and cooking for TUGG, a burger restaurant in Lund. Hopefully, he'll be signing a contract tomorrow for 80%, and I couldn't be more pleased. I've been doing laundry all day, while reading, and then ran to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make another batch of green bean casserole, because despite the fact that Angie made 2 huge pans of it, there was only a couple of spoonfuls leftover. She hates green bean casserole, and is not resigned to being on green bean casserole duty for the rest of her life because the recipe she found 2 years ago is SO loved by all of us. It's the best green bean casserole I've ever had.
Anders and I just had leftovers for dinner, of course, (the second-best part of hosting Friendsgiving is getting almost all the leftovers!) and now I'm writing this, while he's watching a documentary. I've started re-reading the 6th book in the Outlander series, as the latest book (the 9th) came out last week, and I wanted to refresh before I order and read it. The new book has been a LONG time coming; the last one was published in 2014! The author has said there will be one more, but I sincerely hope it doesn't take this long again!
As for what I'm thankful for this year? So much! That we've all managed to stay health, and get vaccinated, that my mom is settling in to her new place, that Martin has moved home, and now found a job, that Karin is thriving and figuring out her future while working again at Axis, that Anders and I are still happily married, and that we have a beautiful home, good friends, enough money to be able to do things we want to do, and that we live in a safe place. It's been a hard, long couple of year with the loss of Anders' mom, and my grandmother, and not being able to go home to help my mom and sister through all the changes, but I am setting my sights on things improving for next year.