As I stand in my kitchen this morning, preparing for Thanksgiving, I can’t help realizing that our time overseas has given me a new and deeper appreciation for certain things I didn’t have before. I made a creme de menthe pie yesterday. Long story short, I had to make it twice. All it required to remake it was a quick trip to the store for two inexpensive items. Overseas, I had to make the pie shell, make the marshmallow cream myself (with precious imported gelatin), make the whipping cream (purchased at great cost at the western grocery store 30 minutes away) and spend a few minutes convincing a person at Starbucks to give me three shots of mint flavoring. I don’t take for granted that we can buy all the ingredients we need to make whatever people requested (in this house, in addition to the pie, it was green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows). Not only are they available, but we can afford to buy them. In short, life is easier and cheaper here.
Not only that, we have a giant oven in which to cook food, and our microwave doubles as a conventional oven so I can cook them all at the same time. Our oven overseas was “big” because it wasn’t just a toaster oven. It wasn’t until our last three years there that we owned a refrigerator that was anything more than a glorified dorm fridge. That was ok though – chances were there was somewhere in your house cold enough to thaw a turkey. The problem was storing any leftovers.
And while we’re disappointed not to be spending the holidays with family, we have come to know the joy of celebrating with friends who feel like family. They, too, know what it’s like to not have this abundance. Today, we’ll be grateful together for all we have here.
As challenging as some of those experiences were overseas, I’m grateful for them too. They reminded us that the best gifts are not tangible. So maybe we didn’t have a turkey or the other traditional foods we knew. We have so much that cannot be taken from us – salvation, joy, eternal life, love. All these other gifts are above and beyond. My heart is thankful.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had these thoughts back on this side of the ocean. Here are a few other reflections: