Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thursday of Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
This year marks my first Thanksgiving, and major holiday for that matter, away from my loving and familiar comfort blanket of family and friends.

My Thanksgiving has been the same for as long as I can remember. Church in the morning, Macy`s Thanksgiving Day parade, followed by assisting my mom with dinner while she drills me every year with, `Now Kate, do you think you could make this meal if I wasn`t here?` The answer is always no, no Mom, no I could not. At which point I receive an exhaled, `Kaaaateeee`. Let`s be real, if Thanksgiving was on me I would most likely pick something up from The Honey Baked Ham store. Then, guests arrive for dinner, Carol, Beth, the Namimoto`s and the Salinas`, all or any combination of the above, and we have a lovely meal! Saying grace, which is mandatory when eating in the dining room, followed by a table poll of what we`re thankful for. Thanksgiving conversations are always fun. Inevitably including a discussion of where we are all going to be in 5 years lead by my mom, and then somehow on to marriage and relationships in general. Tori and I steer that discussion when we say very clearly that we are NOT getting married anytime soon, followed by our mothers` head nod of approved relief.

Makin mashed potatoes...clearly focused

Fam Bam

For our little crew of Thanksgiving guests, no one is really related to each other, aside from the immediate family members they showed up with. So we don`t have any of the ordinary Thanksgiving family drama. It is just a group of people, a man made family if you will, enjoying an amazing meal that we all pulled together to create. Everyone appreciates everyone else and we are all thankful to have each other to share in this pleasant holiday.

So this year, while I am over here in Japan thinking about how everything is going on as usual over in California, I am working on creating my own memorable Thanksgiving.

Last night the other 4 JETs that live in Kamagaya, as well as my apartment complex, had our own Thanksgiving! Dinner consisted of a chicken that was cooked in a crock pot, mashed potatoes, frozen peas and carrots, English muffins and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. It was amazing! We even said grace beforehand and combined any and all of our Thanksgiving traditions. Kim and I are the only 2 Americans in our self named, JET Village, so for some of the other ALTs this was their first Thanksgiving as well. It was so nice to just hangout and chat. Tim, Sinapi`s husband, was also there. He is from Chicago and is in the US Navy, stationed at the base here. The pumpkin pie was courtesy of him and his access to mini America. He had brought over the ads for the Black Friday sales the base was having. And yes, he was set to wake up at 5am to get some shopping done. How very American of him.

Thanksgiving Japan style 2010

Sinapi (from NZ) and I


From my Turkey Day lesson at school...any questions?

This Saturday I went to another part of Chiba to have yet another Thanksgiving dinner, this time with about 40 other Chiba JETs. It was an amazing event and such a good time!

Trey and Mike carving 2 or the 4 turkeys, courtesy of Costco

Nicola and I with our HEAPING plates of food

Arts and crafts time led to some excellent decorations


While of course I wish I could share this special day the way I usually do with the people I love, I am still enjoying it all the way over here. Last night after Thanksgiving in JET Village, I went back to my apartment happy and satisfied. With not an ounce of homesickness, no offense anyone, and I started to wonder why. How did I get here? Here, to this place in my life where I am content celebrating a major holiday with people I met 3 months ago.

I was thinking about this last night as I was falling asleep, listening to rain and praying it would stop before my AM bike ride to work. And this is what I came up with. The reason I decided I am not homesick and longing to be back in the States today, is, well…you.

I have such a solid foundation of people supporting me and routing for me to succeed. If you are reading this you obviously know me in some way and thus have shaped my life in one way or another, some more than others. It could be as small as a conversation we had once, to helping me through a rough time, to attending high school or college with me, or as big as, well, raising me.

I want to sincerely thank you all for that. You have contributed to me. Shaping me as I grow, making me who I am. And I have to say, I`m pretty proud of the way I turned out.:) So thanks!

Thanks to my parents whose love and support has never faltered. Cheering for me at my 575,478,957 soccer games, backing me up when I didn`t understand my homework, putting up with my KUMON temper tantrums knowing that it would benefit me in the long run, and of course supporting me financially to my first choice university. Your support behind me being in Japan has been unbelievable. The fact that you understand why I want to be here and back me in my decision to move half way around the world, no matter how hard it is for you, is simply amazing. Love you both so much!

Thank you to my extended family, who I see all to rarely. Thank you for the memories and the support both, financial and otherwise, when I decide to take on such tasks as run a half marathon while raising money for Leukemia or go to Belize to teach. Thank you, thank you! You made those experiences possible for me, experiences that I count as some of the most important in my life.

Thank you to my family friends. A category that I feel like gets skipped over all too often. I am so lucky to have such an amazing group of adults looking out for me. Thank you to Carol, Beth, the Namimoto`s, the Salinas`, the Dawidziak`s, the Kirk`s and the Storer`s thank you all so much for supporting me as if I was your own. From including me on the email chain when you email your other 3 children, to taking me on trip with you, to treating me to countless meals. And always, always, always cheering for my success. Thank you.

Thank you to my friends. I don`t even know where to begin with this one. I love my friends more than I can say and I have been so lucky to have such a solid group. Thank you to my high school friends, a group of people who are seemingly able to pick up right where we left off 5 years ago at 18. (Oh my god is that right?! 5 years?!) That is the mark of true friendship. Thank you for the visits all over the world, thanks to the travel buddies, the nights we needed a place to crash, the visits to each other`s colleges, while they may not always be 100% memorable ;) those memories are irreplaceable. Love you guys!

I have always loved the quote, `Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.` I believe it wholeheartedly, especially when it comes to my college friends. Thank you all for helping me to create a new home in San Francisco. Thank you to my roommates over the years, which includes about 12 different girls with whom together we created some of the best days of our lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you girls for making my college experience what it was.

Finally, thank you to all those I have met in Japan. The reasons I love it so much, the reasons I want to stay. The friends I made at orientation, who I have known all of 3 months but it feels like so much longer. Thanks to the other ALTs in JET Village for supporting me through my move here and not slamming the door in my face when I ask for the 47,839 time, What does this say?, What did he say?, What bill this is?, How do I do such and such? Thank you guys, I am thankful everyday we have each other to lean on if we need.

Thanks to Jessica and Kellyne. The only other friends from home I have in this time zone. Knowing you are just a skype call away and on the same sleep schedule as me is unbelievably comforting.

And thank you to the amazing teachers I work with. I have said it before, but Taka, Namiko and Keima have really made my experience here. To the teachers who cause me to laugh all day long, thank you for making work so fun. Thank you for your patience with me as I learn Japanese, thanks for making sure I know if the schedule is changed, and when to pay my lunch bill, thanks for generally looking out for me. You have made this move to Japan a smoother transition than I ever thought it could be.

Being so far away this year has allowed to be even more thankful, and feel closer to my loved ones than ever before. I am so thankful to have you all in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone and Thank you!
Arigato Gozaimashita!

Gobble, Gobble


  1. hope you had a great thanksgiving! definitely not that same as back home. so thankful for you, friend!! xoxo

  2. Kate I miss you!! And I'm very thankful too to have had you for a great friend all through college and into the future for whatever may come. ;-)



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