When you choose to stay in country during your service for the holidays many emotions churn inside you. I am not planning on going “home” until my service is over. Mainly I do not want to have to readjust to life at home and then not want to come back. I also do not want to spoil the feeling of having Richard for myself and then having to leave him again. It was so hard when he left from his visit. So I choose to stay here and hunker down for the holidays. I do not celebrate Christmas anyway, so this is not a struggle for me, but Thanksgiving I struggle with.
Mel is a wonderful hostess and planner. Two years she has organized and planned a Friendsgiving gathering and feast. This year we had more people than last and we ended up renting a space to acommodate more people. The food and freindship are amazing. It is even more amazing when you are alone without your family around on the holidays.
I ended up staying with Whitney because she does not live too far from the location. Several of us ended up staying with other volunteers nearby. I promised to bring my crockpot with me so Whitney could cook a chicken in the slow cooker. I know right? I allowed my crockpot to become a cockpot! Sorry a little Jamaican humor as they refer to chicken as cock almost exclusively. So Friday night I got off work early and packed my bags and headed up her way. It was nearly dark when I finally reached her home. We opted to not cook dinner but instead take the 3/4 pear I had brought with me and make guacamole with something similar to french bread.
We set the chicken up to cook overnight, and Whit is so good at dressing a dirty bird that I did not even have to touch it! I then proceeded to make my dish, actually two of them. I brought salad, and I have to say that the lady I bought the lettuce from thought I was nuts for wanting $700 in lettuce! She was like, are you sure and she hesitated, then I informed her I had to feed 20 people the next day and I was bringing the salad, at that she calmed down and bagged it up. I also made a vegetarian cassoulet from Smitten Kitchen, but I modified it. I ended up not having a way to bake the dish so I did it all on the stove top. I also added mushrooms and roasted pumpkin. For the bread crumbs I mixed bread crumbs with nutritional yeast and fresh parsley and then sauteed it on the stove until it was crispy and browned. I was very relieved that none of it came back home with us!
Sometimes in our darkest moments we have to look up and find our true friends and our true selves. This has never been more meaningful as it has been for my service. There are times I feel isolated and alone, but I know I am not. There are times when I think the whole world does not understand me, but I know there are those out there that do. I have found my tribe, and it is large!