This past Thursday was Thanksgiving. I had worked all day, and then came home to meet Rasmus. The night before we had stayed up late baking a pumpkin pie with spices my parents had sent over from the states. Leading up to this day I had asked various people if they wanted to celebrate this and every Norwegian I asked just said “Oh, no. We don’t celebrate that here.” I was a little surprised because I thought they’d find it interesting! I had settled on the fact that Rasmus and I would have a simple meal together, and this would be the farewell to one of my favorite holidays.
However last weekend we got a special invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner in Oslo. Before I left California, I had been working as an interior designer for a corporate design company and one of my favorite clients was Norwegian. Days before I was moving away I said to him “Hey, can we stay in touch when I move to Norway? I don’t really know anyone there!” he said of course, and gave me his email address and then said “Actually, there’s is an American woman there who I’d like you to meet.” I emailed that woman the next day, and we booked a date and time months in advance. When I moved to Norway she was the first person I met here. Nearly a year later, she has become a great part of my life, and I am so thankful and grateful for her. She is who had us over for Thanksgiving.
Rasmus and I took our pie wrapped in a grocery store bag, and put on layers of jackets, mittens, snow boots, and scarves and headed to Frogner. We passed the castle, and I licked snowflakes off my nose. As someone who thinks in prose I would normally rehearse lines in my head relating to lights turning on in the castle, mysteries, elegance, combined with the cold air, cool sentiments, etc… tonight, I just enjoyed the walk for being a walk. I thought about my pumpkin pie, I thought about Rasmus, and I thought about my gratitude for someone inviting us over for dinner.
We passed the thick rod iron gates and manicured trees that lined the street, and were buzzed into the building. I questioned my decision to put on red lipstick, but my lips had been dry and it was all I could find at home. As we opened the thick front door, we heard her call down the grand spiral staircase “Come all the way up! We’re up here!” We were welcomed into a home that was warm and smelled just like Thanksgiving. There was a big turkey that had been being prepared all day, beautiful pies, and various classic dishes of sweet potato, cranberry, mashed potatoes, stuffing, you name it.
I won’t name names or post pictures of faces since most of the guests like to keep a low profile. But what I can assure you of is that this evening was fabulous, spectacular, and something surely to remember. Some of the guests I had known before, and some were new. I probably seemed quite quiet but the stories and anecdotes being told left me with no other instinct but to listen in awe. I felt included, but also like I was witnessing something extraordinary. A group of friends who have had this same dinner for 27 years.
After enjoying a delicious meal, and getting to know our neighbors we took a little break to mingle. Our hostess then invited us back to the table before dessert and we went around and gave thanks for our year. Some were incredibly deep and spiritual, and it felt so good to hear these things. When it was my turn, I had a surge of emotions as I began to think of everything this year had brought, and how much I am thankful for. It was overwhelming and trying to boil it down into a sentence or two seemed like a huge undertaking. I resolved to thanking Rasmus, and thanking our hostess for being so supportive towards me.
Just weeks ago when I was having a “rough patch” I had called my mom crying about family and expectations and then why we hadn’t been raised with much family, etc., and she said to me “Family is family, you can’t choose them or choose how they treat you. But you can choose your friends, and they can be the best thing in the world, and that… that you can choose.” The group that we had Thanksgiving with exemplified this, and it was beautiful to be a part of.
Walking home Rasmus said “I really liked that.” and I knew what he meant. The love, the warmth, the kindness, the openness, the mysteriousness, and the gratitude of sharing ones friends and family.
I am thankful for this magical night I had here in Norway.