It rained ice and snow the day before, but the sun came out Thanksgiving morning, and all the buildings turned warm cream and raisin yellow. Sometimes you forget about colors in Moscow winters because it’s so dark, but you remember them when the sun comes out. Thanksgiving was so sunny that even all the ice that congealed on car windows and in mushy puddles on the ground made you cheerful because of how it reflected pink and yellow in the sunrise.
I think it was one of the best days of the whole year. I wish you could have been there – it was so good that I don’t think I can put it down on paper well enough for you to understand. A perfect feast of good food, good friends, everything at just the right pace, and God’s grace visible and shining at all the edges.
Part of the key, I’ve learned, to getting your prayers answered is first of all praying them to begin with. I didn’t pray very much for Thanksgiving to be a good day, but I think there were other people praying. I know economist husband was praying for his sermon to go well, and it DID go well, so that was the first thing.
And then our friend invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. He’s a missionary who is perfect for living in Russia because he’s laid-back and makes friends like economist husband makes trades on forex – he does it even without thinking, and sometimes when he’s half-asleep.
I was excited about the invitation mostly because our apartment is too messy to invite guests over, and I didn’t plan anything for Thanksgiving. It’s hard to celebrate American holidays in Russia. They don’t give you extra time off from work, and turkeys can cost up to $60 a bird. Plus, no one except your expat friends is really talking about celebrating so no one else is in the holiday mood. If our friend hadn’t invited us we probably wouldn’t have had any Thanksgiving at all.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure our missionary friend prayed that Thanksgiving would be a good day.
And that’s the way it was. It was one of the best days I can remember since…well, since I took a real day off and was intentional about celebrating.
We spent hours cooking in the kitchen. We spent hours talking about things and making jokes in Russian and in English. And then we spent several more hours sitting at the table eating and toasting, and saying what we were thankful for. Probably we spent even more time eating than we did cooking. We came at two and left at ten. Eight hours of cooking and eating.
And then when economist husband and I got home, drunk on turkey, gravy, buckwheat stuffing and pumpkin pie, I couldn’t stop talking about what a great day it was. We cuddled on the couch and watched a movie, and I was like “This has been such a great day!” and economist husband was like, “You keep saying that.”
And then the next morning, riding the metro to work with this sleepy-turkey smile on my face I tried to figure out what it is that makes a day so good.
These are my conclusions on what ingredients are recommended to have a really great day:
- plenty of sleep
- a really nice cappuccino in the morning
- make sure you’re with the person you’re in love with the entire day. Be sure to tell them that they’re great and that you love them.
- make something (like a turkey dinner with buckwheat, apple and celery stuffing, for example) to give to someone you love
- be intentional about celebrating: As Donald Miller says: “When we look back on our lives, what we will remember are the crazy things we did, the times we worked harder to make a day stand out.”
- Invite a bunch of people along. It’s especially great to have a mix of old and new: old, comfortable friends to relax with and new friends to expand your horizons and push you a bit out of your natural comfort zone
- Ask God for His help, and then thanking Him when He comes through
What about you? How was your Thanksgiving? What do you think makes a good day?