Preparing for Thanksgiving where Thanksgiving isn’t a thing

Today I went to the store to buy a few things for the week including the ingredients to make lemon bars, my offering that I will be making for Thanksgiving with friends on Thursday. This year we were invited to join up with some newish friends who like to order from one of the handful of restaurants that offer Thanksgiving meals to the US Americans in Berlin. I mean, anyone can order this delivery to their home but clearly the audience is those of us that hold Thanksgiving as a holiday we enjoy.

Thursday is a regular working day for most here so we will gather at 5pm ish after work on Thursday. Normally, Ana has to adhere to this as well but this year because Ana is already on maternity leave, it wasn’t a concern for us this particular year.

For me, Thanksgiving is a marker in time between Halloween and Christmas. My own personal rule is to not start decorating until right after Thanksgiving. For my family, of course you probably know. that we watch White Christmas on Thanksgiving to launch the holiday season. When the country you live in doesn’t have this marker, the lines get a little blurry. Here, in Berlin, yesterday was kind of the kick off date for Christmas markets around the city. Ana and I are talking about going to our first one of the season tomorrow in the midst of some errands we want to run.

I have a goal of attending at least 10 Christmas markets this year since I won’t be able to be in Oregon this season as we wait for baby boy to appear. I have a chart, a list, and info on many websites to guide my list. I have been diligently waiting for this week to even consider seeking them out but here I find that as the week approaches, that Thanksgiving marker means less and less here.

What I do love about when I have celebrated Thanksgiving here is that it becomes more and more about gratitude with our people. There is so much problematic history tied to Thanksgiving in the US that it becomes a place of trying to navigate how much to celebrate and understand all at the same time. While that consciousness is not erased here, it is a chance to gather and be grateful for all that we have when we have to seek out this intentional marker in time.

I am sure we will see more and more Christmas decorations appear over this next weekend as it is the weekend of Advent 1 and Germans are much more invested in marking the weeks of Advent than what happens after a non existent holiday here. I have seen some lights go up and some glimmer of celebration but I am sure we will see it really kick in as the weekend comes and goes. I get to preach the two first weekends of Advent and what a year of preparation this will be as we wait and prepare and celebrate.

So here’s to the feast if you are part of that celebration and here’s to upcoming Advent if you recognize that liminal and holy time!

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