Thanksgiving

by Kim on November 28, 2013 · 36 comments

Europe by train: day 13. Bruges, Belgium.

Last year Brian and I spent Thanksgiving in Puerto Natales, Chile. We’d just returned from walking the W in Torres del Paine National Park. It was snowing. We tromped through the icy streets to the only brewpub in town and, finding it closed, walked across the empty square looking for a place to have dinner.

I remember being sad and feeling far away from home. We found a pizza place, one of the only establishments open, and sat shoulder to shoulder on a picnic bench, a candle flickering in front of us and people yapping in Spanish all around. We put on our happy faces and ordered wine. I don’t remember what we talked about but I know we were thinking of home.

I remember our first Thanksgiving in Oregon. We didn’t have a single friend. We ate pizza that year, too, ordered and delivered to our apartment door. In those early days we were one step away from giving up and rushing back to Ohio, where we’d both been born and raised. It would have been easier to go home, where we knew what to expect and had people who would catch us if we fell.

I’m glad we didn’t go back to Ohio and I’m glad we pushed through our homesickness in Chile too. This year, we will spend another Thanksgiving away from the people we love. I still miss home. That feeling never goes away, even after you pass that invisible line when you realize you feel more comfortable away than when you’re there.

This Thanksgiving I do not have the same seasonal-enduced homesickness. It’s because this time around I know to appreciate this holiday abroad. I know that next year we will be home for Thanksgiving. We’ll be home for Christmas too. It took ten years of wandering to make us certain: Home is where we want to be.

Right now we are in Bruges, Belgium. We arrived yesterday by train. Bruges is adorable and cozy. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s like stepping back in time. Of course we are already charmed.

Today we will wander the canals and browse the Bruges Christmas market. When the sun goes down we will once again begin the hunt for a Thanksgiving meal in a foreign town.

Afterwards, we will come back to the hostel we are staying in, a room with two twin beds and posters promoting 1 euro jager shots at the bar downstairs. We will hold hands in the dark, our arms hanging in the empty space between beds.

Tonight, when I count my blessings, I will be thankful for our holidays abroad. I will remember to savor all of the things that won’t last forever, which is everything.

Bruges by train

Bruges Belgium

Brugges Belgium

hot chocolate in Bruges

Bruges Belgium

Bruges Belgium

Bruges Belgium

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Terry November 28, 2013 at 5:37 am

Kim – your photos are always jaw-droppingly stunning, but I must say the shots you’ve shared of Belguim are knocking my socks off!!! A happy healthy Thanksgiving Day to you and B! We will miss you both dearly but can’t wait to set places at the table for you two next year!! Hugs and kisses to you both!! Xoxoxo

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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:31 am

Belgium is so beautiful and unexpected. We love it there. Happy Thanksgiving Terry!

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Carmel November 28, 2013 at 5:57 am

Lovely post and we know how you feel! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Brian!
Carmel recently posted..REDEFINING EXPECTATIONS

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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:32 am

I know you do. Hope you guys had a great T-Day SE Asia style.

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Gillian @GlobalBookshelf November 28, 2013 at 6:41 am

Was it the best hot chocolate? Happy Thanksgiving!
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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:32 am

It was pretty darn good.

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Jessica J. Hill November 28, 2013 at 7:18 am

Happy Thanksgiving to you both! It’s always hard to be away and in a weird way, it’s nice to hear it doesn’t get easier. Home really is where the heart is, especially for the holidays. Enjoy Bruges! Next year is something to look forward to.

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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:32 am

That’s true. Next year is something to look forward to so enjoy now!

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Sarah Somewhere November 28, 2013 at 7:35 am

I’m floored you know where you want to be next year, as well as excited that you have arrived at that point. Happy Thanksgiving, Kim and Brian, I’m celebrating it for the first time ever this year among family and friends who have become like family, in this foreign country which has become like home. We just never know where this journey will take us, I wish you many blessings on yours xxx
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Freedom to dream

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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:33 am

Hehe, me too. I’m really longing for a home base and I REFUSE to miss another holiday with my family. Life is to short and love is what matters! I’m glad you are enjoying your first Thanksgiving. It’s the best of all the holidays.

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Emily Sue November 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

Love this post Kim! It’s amazing that last year we were just leaving for our Everest base camp trek and this year I am happily sitting at home with my family looking forward to doing absolutely nothing but enjoying their company and of course eating! It’s times like this that I’m happy having returned to “normal” life but there are days I miss being abroad. I am so happy you’re taking it all in and savoring your time away!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:34 am

Oh yes, I totally get that. I think there will always be the trade. When you travel you miss home and when you’re home you miss the road. Happy Thanksgiving to you two.

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Ian November 28, 2013 at 9:26 am

I remember watching a Korean movie and at the end of the movie there was a quote that went “Those who have a long journey will see the long roads to go home.” Whenever I do my bi-annual ritual of traveling by myself out of the country, there hasn’t been a day where I didn’t miss the comforts of home while I’m on the road. But yeah definitely take and enjoy every minute on this long journey that both of you are in. Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving.

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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:35 am

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well Ian.

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) November 28, 2013 at 11:34 am

Happy American Thanksgiving … and in Bruges? … little town from a fairytale? … Great place to spend it with your love.
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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:35 am

Seriously! Is Bruges not the most adorable place on earth? We had a great time there.

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Patti November 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Happy Thanksgiving from Oregon where the day dawned in all its glory! It’s just us and a 10lb turkey this year, but I am not focused on Thanksgiving, I am focused on the fact that in just 6 short days we will be on the road again, making our way across this amazing country of ours, to be with our son and his fiance and a fabulous Christmas holiday with our most favorite people.

“We will hold hands in the dark, our arms hanging in the empty space between beds.” = Lovely.
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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:36 am

Ah, I’m so glad Oregon had a beautiful Thanksgiving! Enjoy your trip in 6 days and spending the holiday with that son of yours. Have fun!!

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Hannah November 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Brian – you certainly wound up in a magical place to enjoy your last one away from home for a while. I’m excited to read your post this time next year, and all the changes that are sure to come about between now and then. I have a feeling it is going to be a year to be incredibly grateful for. Lots of love to you xxx
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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:36 am

Still wish we could have had a Thanksgiving feast at your chateau. XO

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Miel November 28, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Happy Thanksgiving from Manila! You can check my post regarding my six Thanksgivings abroad in the last twenty years, including Finland, Ghana (twice), Macedonia, Afghanistan, and now the Philippines. At least you’ve got Brian, better than my dinner alone, but still thankful to have the opportunity to do the work that I love.

Cheers,

Miel
Miel recently posted..Thanksgiving Abroad

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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:37 am

Spending holidays abroad sure do make you reflect and focus on whats important don’t they? Sorry your dinner was alone but it is a gift the amazing work you get to do. Take care Miel!

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TammyOnTheMove November 28, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Happy thanksgiving! I love Christmas markets and the one in Bruges is supposed to be stunning. Don’t forget to drink plenty of mulled wine with all that beer around. :-)
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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:38 am

We are definitely working on the mulled wine. So much to drink!

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Peter Korchnak | Where Is Your Toothbrush? November 29, 2013 at 12:19 am

I found this post just as we’re about to leave our apartment in Istanbul, Turkey, for a Thanksgiving meal at an expat-owned cafe. This is our first Thanksgiving outside of the U.S., the holiday being more important for Lindsay, a natural born American. Even if we hadn’t found a place to enjoy the holiday meal with fellow Americans, I know we’d have a good time because we’re with one another. I am thankful for that.

Home is, indeed, where you want to be. Or, in our parlance, home is where your toothbrush is! I love Brugge, by the way. I visited for a day when I lived in the Netherlands 13 years ago, would love to return. May I recommend you stop by in Leiden, a charming university town halfway between Rotterdam and Amsterdam (it’s also where Lindsay and I met). We’ll be in Amsterdam from the 6th to the 9th, would love to meet up if you’re there.

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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:38 am

We missed Leiden this time around but I think we’ll be back to Belgium someday. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Lindsay!

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Rhonda November 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm

happy belated Thanksgiving friends. Glad, at least, that you’re enjoying it in Bruges…. such a very scenic place. Today I am grateful for you, and all our friends, near and far that make up part of this complicated life we lead.
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Kim November 30, 2013 at 12:40 am

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jim as well Rhonda. Big hugs from us.

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Maddie December 1, 2013 at 3:57 am

Happy belated Thanksgiving! It’s wonderful that you both know exactly where you want to be by next year, I think it will make you appreciate the time you have on the road so much more. Bruges is absolutely stunning, I definitely hope to visit around Christmas one year.
Maddie recently posted..So what happens now?

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Kim December 1, 2013 at 10:53 am

You guys are lucky to be in the UK and so close to everything. Happy holidays Maddie.

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Maddie December 2, 2013 at 2:30 am

It’s funny because I know we’re lucky to be close to all of these places but all I want is to live in the U.S, I’m envious of your citizenship!
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Kim December 4, 2013 at 1:08 am

That IS funny!!Why!?!?! Where do you want to live in the U.S.? I’m so curious.

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Maddie December 4, 2013 at 3:58 am

A hundred and one reasons :-) The weather, the attitude (negativity is rife in the UK), the great outdoors, an over-whelming love of Vermont! Top three places to live are Burlington, VT, Boulder, CO and probably Seattle, WA. There are numerous negatives as well but nowhere is perfect and we just really fancy a change. It’s not going to happen any time soon but a girl has to dream!
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Dustin@WeGoRTW December 5, 2013 at 5:41 am

Great low light shots, what camera are you sporting these days?
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Kim December 5, 2013 at 7:33 am

It’s a Olympus PEN E-P3

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Kim December 5, 2013 at 4:37 am

I suppose those are all great reasons to live in the U.S. And I agree, Vermont is an amazing place. I would love to live there myself. I hope it works for you Maddie :)

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