Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family in the States! Thanksgiving here in Australia is a non-event. Understandably, they don’t even acknowledge our US holiday. This is the first year I’ll be solo for the major U.S. holidays, but it doesn’t mean that I am without friends. The German girls I am traveling with — Pauline and Linda — decided to help me celebrate. Us three splurged a bit past our budget to eat a fancy dinner.
Pauline, Linda, and I have been traveling together down the coast for nearly two weeks at this point and we are getting along smashingly well; I’m grateful to have found fast friends. Australia’s backpacking scene is huge, so it’s not that there has been a lack of new people. It’s more that I am here to explore and have fun, but not to partake in the rigorous Aussie partying scene. In that way, meeting Pauline and Linda, and sharing travel plans with them, has been wonderful.
During our Thanksgiving dinner, they were both eager to know about Thanksgiving traditions. They gave me surprised eyebrow raises when I told them it’s a bona fide holiday in the US. They couldn’t believe that adults and children alike get time off of work and school and that business close down. It baffled them to learn that we cook massive quantities of food and gorge all day long. Somehow the American movies make it seem fairytale-like rather than a part of our culture. I assured them that we have rituals and traditions that accompany the holiday, and that the traditions range by region and family.
As I explained more, the stories and traditions intrigued them, and made them even more eager to help me celebrate the day. In the spirit of the holiday, we headed to St. Kilda, a trendy coastal suburb of Melbourne. Our goal was to find some place to eat a yummy Thanksgiving dinner. Once we stepped off of the tram, they skies greeted us with cold drizzling rain and zero sunshine. The ocean in the distance was a churning mass of gray and white. It wasn’t quite as festive as I had hoped!
But I could not be deterred from our mission of celebrating Thanksgiving. We were all approaching the hangry side of hunger since the tram took a while in the rush hour traffic. With a quick look at the menu, we ducked into a cute Italian restaurant on Fitzroy Street, the main drag, for a feast of ravioli and pasta.
I’ve never had Italian food on Thanksgiving Thursday before, but it was a fun, unique way to add it into my trip around the world. It was a Thanksgiving celebration that will stick with me as vividly as the turkey-filled gorgings of years past.
Once we were done, the weather was still crap, and the temperature was rapidly dropping, so we cut our losses and headed back to the hostel in Melbourne. I had hoped to find some pumpkin pie for us all, but it was elusive and impossible. Unlike back home, none of the grocery stores carried it, and I couldn’t even find the canned mix! And with the cold weather, I gave up and decided to call it a finished holiday. We had a cozy end to the night with all of us in our PJs, hanging out, chatting, and relaxing with a hot cup of tea.
A note on the tea: More tea! I have drunk more tea in the past month than I have in the past ten years! There is a pronounced Britishness to it all here, the Aussies love their tea! It’s still not my favorite drink, but it is a delightful and aromatic way to end the night on a cold evening.
In total, friendship and food was a pretty good way to spend the holiday. I am also grateful for the new friends and warm wishes and emails from all my stateside friends and family. Although a Thanksgiving abroad may never quite equal that of one back home with those I love, this was a good day and I am still so grateful I am taking this journey around the world.