Not Grieve for the Things Which He Has Not

This is our 7th Thanksgiving Day in Finland. I don’t know why I need to keep explaining that it’s not a holiday here. No, they do not celebrate Thanksgiving outside of North America. For the first couple of years we’d meet up with other American expats. As time went on… meh. It felt increasingly less important, and more forced, to try to observe it.

Last year was the tipping point. The live stream of the parade as jarring. So many commercials! And the volume is so much louder during the commercials! We’re not used to that anymore. On the rare occasion do we watch Finnish television, there are far fewer ads. They’re not as pushy, over-the-top, and blatantly manipulative. It was off-putting to have to sit through so much consumerist garbage across the span to three hours to get maybe 90 minutes worth of entertainment content.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

Epictetus, Discourses

Rather than try to recreate Thanksgiving, we’ve let it go. Not to the extent that we’re ignoring it entirely, but it’s going to be a normal day. To observe our roots, we’ll pay homage to it at dinner.

I’m going to roast some chicken. Turkey is available here, but expensive. There will be stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green beans. Not green bean casserole, with canned mushroom glop and tinned friend onions. Gah! Real food. The main reason we’re having this sort of meal at all, honestly, is an excuse for me to make my stuffing. From scratch.

I like that most Nordic of condiments, lingonberry jam, with my chicken and stuffing. It’s cranberry-adjacent. There’s also the added benefit of it not being shaped like the can it came in.

For dessert we’ll have cheesecake. I don’t have the time or the spoons to bake a pumpkin pie, and they’re not a thing you can just walk into an grocery store and buy. It’s a non-traditional meal, so we’ll have a non-traditional dessert.

Not Grieve for the Things Which He Has Not

There are plenty of Finnish holidays to celebrate. Independence Day is coming up on 6 December. We’ll watch the military parade, and the church service, and the Castle Ball. No idea how they’re going to hold a gala in 2020, but I’m curious to find out. We’ll light two candles in the window, as per the custom. Over the course of the day we will probably eat mustard herring, bake prune tarts, and drink glöggi. We may be foreigners, but we will give thanks for the things Finland has given us.

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans. For the rest of you, I hope you have a pleasant Thursday.

Not Grieve for the Things Which He Has Not

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