Although we live in Albania, the 90 strong little school my children go to is 50% American. So it goes without saying Thanksgiving is given as a holiday. The school has a British director & follows the British National Curriculum (Don't ask, I've no idea why) but Thanksgiving is non negotiable. And really, what's not to like? A 4 day holiday towards the end of a long 16 week term. Hooray, or to get into the American spirit, yay!
However us Brits, & indeed the Europeans here, feel slightly 'left out'. And of course being all about 'Thanksgiving', gratitude &, Heaven forbid, expressing it, it sits slightly uneasily with the British psyche. But we all felt we wanted to mark it in some way as the Americans were all having their Thanksgiving dinners somewhere, after playing in the annual Turkey Bowl, the 'friendly' American Football match, which, though Mr Ingo & our son play, they were not invited to join in with. So we felt we needed to mark it in some way for ourselves.
So I suggested to the assembled Brits & honorary Brits that we have a “Mustn't Grumble Day”. It seemed suitably, well British. It is now an unofficial Tirana Thanksgiving European Tradition. Last year it took us to the beach. This year, as it has suddenly turned wet, to a shopping mall & play area. We only have bowling & very expensive ice skating left & we have exhausted Tirana's child friendly offerings. I should add that the British contingent in Tirana is tiny, tiny, which perhaps explains why we felt the need to assert our own tradition.
We spent the day together & had fun, reverting to British type very quickly. We all escaped for a coffee whilst the children played. The coffee took ages to come. This was of course noted & remarked upon, but still, we thought, mustn't grumble, so we patiently waited, & of course didn't mention a thing to the waiter & still left our tip, even if slightly underwhelmed by the non existent service.
It was a lovely relaxing, hilariously familiar day. We talked about the remembrance service, tutted about the Albanian president holding up proceedings by arriving late 'just because he could', reminisced about the Defence attache's splendid spurs, talked about what a jolly affair the Guy Fawkes night had been, if unBritishly mild at 20' . We even discussed the Royal wedding. I am sure none of these subjects would have crossed my lips living in the UK & out for coffee with friends. But it was British Mustn't Grumble Day so we had to fly the flag.
The rest of my Thanksgiving w/e? Well: I took the kids out for Breakfast Pancakes (they are willing participants in American culture), walked 10 mins up to the clinic to drop off yet another of my daughter's urine samples, then we walked back, all in the pouring rain, looking in vain for a bus to take us home. There are no bus stops signs here, youjust guess or watch people. Our car was being MOT-ed & we are not very used to taking buses. It took us an hour to walk home, during which time ONE of our buses passed us. Right at the entrance to the road our house is in. One bus in an hour. Grrrrrrr.
Our car failed its MOT. Still only on two minor things: steering & suspension......
We had a power cut from Saturday night (during dinner with friends), through to Sun afternoon, 3 hrs of power then another all nighter power outtage.
On Saturday afternoon, Mr Ingo (aka my husband), was changing the light bulbs in the sitting room, & our daughter was handing him the screw driver. The glass light cover fell (because Mr Ingo discovered it didn't have all 4 screws in place) & sliced our daughter's cheek as it bounced onto the sofa. Said light cover was 14 inches square & weighed about 2 pounds.
At times like this I feel particularly vulnerable living somewhere with as limited medical resources as Albania. The good thing is you can call the (lovely) American Dr any time & the entire round trip takes less than an hr. No long queues in A&E. The down side is, you just have a general practitioner sewing up the gash with 3 stitches & you just hope he paid attention in medical seamstress classes. If not, our daughter, as my husband joked with her, will forever after be able to go to fancy dress parties as a pirate, with a ready made & genuine scar rakishly slashed across her cheek. I thought our 6 y-o took this in remarkably good spirits, considering she would never entertain going as a pirate anyway, quite apart from being told she would be scarred for life (which wouldn't go very well with her princess outfit she said). Fortunately our daughter is used to her dad's style of humour & just rolled her eyes at him. Equally fortunately, being so young I am sure it will heal very well.
And when you see how close to her eye it cut, you really do think, I mustn't grumble, this could have been a whole lot worse.
And for that we are very thankful....