thanksgiving in belgrade

This Thanksgiving was wonderful and felt very much like a true American Thanksgiving, despite the fact that we celebrated it in Belgrade and with foreign friends. We ate too much (and then ate some more), watched part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, watched football, and even did some (online) shopping! It was, however, full of firsts, some unexpected and some not.

It was our first self-hosted Thanksgiving.

Our last Thanksgiving abroad, when we were in Uzbekistan, the ambassador hosted a celebration for all the couples without children and singles at post. I brought over some acorn-shaped cakelets but wasn’t expected to do anything else. This year, however, we decided to have friends over, which meant I was expected to do a lot more. This was made a bit more difficult because I had returned on Monday afternoon from the US — hosting Thanksgiving three days later? When I wasn’t really sure what I was doing? Brilliant idea.

Truthfully, things went smoothly and I don’t think there is really anything I would have done differently. We even did some arts and crafts, which was surprisingly fun. I’m thinking we created a new tradition:

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I cooked my first turkey.

This goes along with hosting our first Thanksgiving, but I am proud especially proud of myself for the turkey. We didn’t end up having trouble procuring a turkey, which we did through the embassy, but I was very concerned it would not fit in our small, European oven. Grant did a great job getting a roasting pan and rack that happened to fit perfectly. I am being completely serious when I tell you that had it been just one millimeter bigger, it would not have fit. Of course we didn’t actually try putting it in the oven until the night before, so I was extra thankful for having a cooked turkey at dinner.

I defrosted the 14-pound bird on Tuesday, when I started researching how to prepare and cook a Thanksgiving turkey and discovered that we should have taken it out of the freezer the Saturday before. Whoops. Instead, I had to put it in water that I then changed every half an hour for seven hours. And then came brining. I researched a little more, made some executive decisions about herbs and such, and brined the turkey. The hardest part was the actual cooking: too short and everyone could get sick, but too long and the meat is dry. That and I had to wrangle the bird in and out of the oven a number of times to baste and rotate it. It cooked in record time and was done before Grant was home from a Turkey Bowl flag football game!

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We had a white Thanksgiving.

It started snowing early Tuesday afternoon… and didn’t stop until Wednesday night. We got a lot of snow. It is beautiful but made everything just that much more difficult. Thanks to a shopping trip Grant did over the weekend, we had most of what we needed, but since I didn’t finalize my ideal menu until Tuesday, we were missing items and due to the poor road conditions, there was no way we could get to a large and/or international grocery store. I managed to pick up a few things at the Mini Maxi I can walk to, Grant got some others at the commissary, and we made do.

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The snow is very pretty and now feels quite appropriate — did I mention I had our apartment decorated for Christmas before lunchtime today? We don’t have a lot of decorations, so it wasn’t hard, but I am so ready for Christmas!

How was your Thanksgiving?

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