Friday, December 14, 2012

So much to be thankful for...

We have now been in Scotland for just over 4 months. We have visited so many interesting places, both countries and other sites nearby that most locals don’t get to because they’re too busy living their everyday lives. The kids are both happy enough at their schools and with their friends that they are interested in staying here after our exchange is over (even though that’s not a choice)!

Our Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. It was the Friday before Thanksgiving, and I was shopping with the kids at Tesco (a grocery store). Walking down the frozen foods aisle, Carter asked if I was getting a turkey, and I kinda acted like he was crazy to suggest I buy a turkey that far ahead of time. Just two days later, Sunday, it suddenly hit me that in only 4 days it would be Thanksgiving, and I DIDN’T HAVE A TURKEY!! (You know how long they take to defrost if you follow directions) I also realized I owed Carter an apologyJ

Cara was our decorator, and started making pilgrim hats several days ahead of time. They looked lovely on our table. The day before Thanksgiving I was busy making a sweet potato pie. I don’t actually love sweet potato pie, but since pumpkin is hard to find here in Scotland, it would have to do. I felt quite accomplished baking the potatoes and making what turned out to be a tasty sweet potato pie from scratch. I also made Jim’s favorite, and apple crumb pie, as well as my Norwegian family tradition, lefse! On Thursday, I helped in the first grade class at Cara’s school in the morning, and then came home early to get the turkey in the oven. We added mashed potatoes and gravy and corn on the cob to our meal and were ready to eat.

Before Thanksgiving was even celebrated, the kids started to ask about a Christmas tree. Our family tradition the last several years has been to go to the mountains in Boone and get a fresh cut Christmas tree from a tree farm. Since I knew that this was more than we wanted to handle this year (buying lights, ornaments, needles all over, etc.), I was a little perplexed until one day Cara decided to make a paper chain. I suddenly thought that it might work to make multiple paper chains and hang them from a light fixture/chandelier in the living room. The kids got to work making paper chains, and finally, a week after Thanksgiving, it was assembled and in place. (I’m really not dreading the undecorating this year!!)

Since then, we’ve had multiple predictions of snow or snow/rain. After a day of really cold rain and some ice, it finally snowed a little. Since then we’ve had about 3 other days with some snowflakes, but the most at one time, was about an inch of snow. Let me tell you, once it rains on top of snow, it gets REALLY ICY and slippery. Not so much fun to walk to school in, but the road are pretty well taken care of around here, so Jim hasn’t complained about the driving conditions.

The Scottish Teacher’s Exchange Club arranged a wonderful day in Edinburgh, mainly to see a Panto. A Panto, is short for Pantomime, but there is no miming involved. We went to the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh to see a production of Mother Goose. It involved singing, dancing, acting (the main character, which is often a female part, is acted by a male). It involved a good bit of audience participation, like booing the bad guy or shouting a certain phrase. The kids really enjoyed it, but I think their favorite part is when a certain musical number was sung to “Gangnam Style”!

Another thing I’m really thankful for this year is a lesson in how much STUFF is not necessary. We came over here with one suitcase apiece, and although I LOVE shopping, to help with our budget & keeping in mind that we’ll need to pack anything we want to bring back, I have consciously tried not to get a lot of STUFF.  This has required some imagination and thought with the Christmas gift-giving season approaching. Jim and I are both happy with spending our gift money on travel and events we’d like to attend. The kids are still getting presents, even toys, but we’re trying to keep the size & number small. After cleaning out our house in July to prepare for this exchange, and the sheer number of items we took to consignment or Goodwill, I’d like to try to keep this lesson learned!!

We are missing family and friends from back home, but know that you are all one more thing to be thankful for! We are also excitedly counting down the days until Bob & Virginia (Jim’s parents) arrive to visit with us for several weeks – only 2 days left!