This is my first Thanksgiving spent without my family and without my mom’s homemade tofurkey, so I thought I’d take a minute to reflect. I set myself the challenge this year of making an entire Thanksgiving meal pretty much single-handedly, tofurkey and all.
It’s also worth noting that Thanksgiving marks one month since I moved to Edinburgh, so this lovely Canadian holiday comes at a particularly convenient time. This is my 21st Thanksgiving, so here are 21 things I am thankful for (in no particular order):
As a preceding note, sorry that this is reasonably long; I like words (see numbers 2 and 9).
1: Tofurkey itself. When I became vegetarian (in early 2005, at age 9) I was making a conscious decision based on re-reading Charlotte’s Web, a book I’d read many times before, but the book was really just the tipping point after months of feeling guilty and conflicted. I love discovering new vegetarian restaurants or recipes, and these days I don’t find myself missing meat at all.
2: My degree program. This is pretty cliché of me to say, but there’s honestly nothing else I’d rather be studying, and the friends I’ve made because of my choice aren’t too bad either. Of course, it comes with the added bonus of never being able to read a book for pleasure without analyzing its use of language at least a little bit, not that that’s a terrible thing.
3: My flatmates here in Edinburgh. I was worried that we wouldn’t get along, but I needn’t have stressed myself out over it; they are three lovely gems and I will miss them all dearly when I leave just before Christmas.
4: Yoga. When I have my mat on my back, fully decked out in Lululemon, I might as well have a giant light-up sign saying “VANCOUVER” over my head, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wasn’t always like this – in fact, I disliked yoga pretty strongly for years because I felt like it wasn’t giving me a good workout and was too much about breathing. When I discovered hot yoga (and later, vinyasa), all that went out the window – so I ought to be thanking Emily as well for helping me rediscover something that I now credit for keeping me sane!
5: Parents who support me in everything I do. In high school, it was more about driving me around and helping with homework, but now that I’ve moved out and learned to be (mostly) a grown up, they’re there for support, advice, university tips, proofreading, and free food, plus sometimes they let me borrow the car. Thanks, Mum and Dad.
6: My sister. I could wax poetic about this kid, but seriously, she is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Being in Edinburgh, the city of her birth, reminds me of what it felt like to wait for her, sing to her when she was still in utero, think of hundreds of names for her, secretly hope that she would be a sister and not a brother. I’m thankful for her humour, her sensibility, and the bond we share.
7: My voice – I may not be a Broadway-level superstar, but being a singer has taken me so many places and helped me meet so many great people that I’m glad I stuck with it for so many years, and especially glad that I came off a year ‘on hiatus’ and hit the ground running again this year!
8: Girl Guides – at home, being a Brown Owl is one of the things I’m most proud of, and I’m so glad I managed to find a unit to volunteer with here in Scotland. There’s something really rewarding about passing on years of Girl Guide knowledge and life knowledge to kids who are still at an impressionable age, and I love being exposed to the fresh, open mind of 7, 8, and 9 year olds; once you’ve passed that age, there’s no way to go back and think like that again!!
9: Books! This is a very ‘English major’ thing to say, but the English language is fascinating and words are such an amazing tool.
10: My family here in Scotland – they picked me up from the airport, housed me for a week, then drove me back to Edinburgh, helped me set up a phone, and have been keeping in touch via text to make sure I’m okay. It’s nice to know there are people on this side of the world who are looking out for me!
11: Cheap produce. This one is a little bit simple, but honestly, the amount of kale I’ve eaten (69p for a bag!) is just absurd. Other great things include tomatoes, apples, peppers, and bananas, and a lot of stuff here is local, so somewhat more sustainable. Also, potatoes.
12: The ease of vegetarianism in the UK – you’d think that in a culture built on ‘meat and potatoes,’ it would be harder to be vegetarian, but in reality things are much simpler than I expected; everything is labelled “suitable for vegetarians” and there’s a big green V on all the cheeses/cheese-containing products that don’t have rennet in them. Canada, take notes! Why don’t we have this?!
13: The weather here so far; I realize that soon it’ll start raining and never stop, but the month I’ve been here has been sunny and warm with only a few insanely windy days.
14: The general hospitality I’ve experienced – everyone here has been so nice and understanding, and I like getting asked where I’m from, answering ‘Vancouver,’ and having people actually know where that is! It’s kind of a novelty to not be a local for once – although often I think I’m assumed to be American because of my fairly neutral ‘North American’ accent.
15: Irn Bru. How will I ever survive without it when I go back home?!
16: Solitude – as much as I love being social, sometimes it’s nice to retreat into my room or take a walk and explore by myself. It’s not quite the same to study in the library, alone but surrounded by others; it works better when I actually feel like I am the only person present in a particular moment.
17: Music; when people ask me what kind of music I like, I tell them it’s a combination of top-40 (especially feel-good bubblegum pop, anything with a cool tune or lyrics that could be a poem), musical theatre soundtracks (Wicked, Grease, the Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, Mamma Mia, Les Mis, among others), and older stuff (‘60s and ‘70s, the Beatles, ABBA, Queen), as well as some lesser known artists. Bonus points if I’ve seen them live and loved it.
18: Romantic comedies. The cheesier, the better.
19: Christmas! Only 22 days until I start playing my pre-set playlist of Christmas albums! (And no, I don’t only like it because of its proximity to my birthday. I like it because I will forever be a kid at heart, so I love the music, the smells, the food, the general feeling of happiness that permeates the air …)
20: Travel – I’m trying to visit as many European destinations as I can while over here, and so far I’ve booked trips to Bath, the Isle of Skye, back to Hawick (where my dad is from), Paris, and London; we’re also hoping to make it to Dublin and possibly Spain! I’ve been bitten by the travel bug!
21: Being here, in this amazing place. What an opportunity! Here’s to one month of crazy and two and a half more to come