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Our Samoan Thanksgiving

Every year we gather with family to share our Thanksgiving Feast. Things were different this year, as we are thousands of miles away from any family. Luckily, there were others in our same situation, fellow adventurers away from home and family, not wanting to spend this holiday alone.

So we gathered together to celebrate, as friends and fellow island inhabitants.

The setting for our Thanksgiving feast was the pool area in our complex. Set among the palm trees and flowers, our dinner was accompanied by the sound of children’s laughter and splashes, waves crashing, and the melodies of our tropical birds.

And the sounds of raindrops and thunder, with the occasional lightning, just to keep things exciting.

Who could have guessed that we would get soaked during the rainy season? All week-long, the weather had been beautiful! It was unusually hot and sunny, humid, but not rainy. We laughed at ourselves, huddled under a couple leaky canopies, remembering that Mother Nature always gets her way.

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When everyone started gathering at the pool, the rain was just coming down as a gentle mist. By the time we had all the food laid out, it was a true, tropical downpour! Our canopies were slightly, to very leaky and we were soon sitting in puddles, as our chairs made for perfect rain collectors.

No amount of rain could dampen our festive spirit though. We dished up and enjoyed the fruits of all our hard labor, in preparing the food. Our feast was complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, macaroni-and-cheese casserole, rolls, taro and palusami, traditional sweet potato casserole and Samoan sweet potatoes, egg rolls, and salad.

AST turkey

AST sides
We had to keep the aluminum foil close by for when the rain was really coming down.

As we started to eat, it got quiet, except for the sound of the pouring rain. We were all enjoying our food, and thinking back on drier Thanksgivings and of loved-ones far away.

Soon enough, the chatter started back up and we were talking and joking again. Not everyone knew each other before our wet get-together, so we commenced getting to know each other, finding out just who our neighbors were.

We told and listened to stories of lives that had differed from one to another. We had all come from very different places, geographically, socio-economically, religiously and politically. Yet, we marveled that, despite our differences, our paths had all ended up there, under those leaky canopies, sharing the foods from the countless Thanksgivings of our pasts, mixed with new found fares of our present.

Even under the constant rain, the kids kept swimming, climbing out and taking bites, and jumping back in to swim some more. Their spirits never faltered.

AST pool

A few times we said, “If this rain would slow down, then we could move this all inside.” Then, the rain would slow and, instead of re-positioning our party, we sat back, a little more comfortably and enjoyed the conversation with the accompaniment of the quieter pitter-patter of the drizzling rain.

During one such break in the downpour, we pulled the pies out and dished up, just in time, before the next downpour began. We enjoyed fruit and chocolate pies, with homemade whipped cream. Some pies (mine) were meltier than their Pinterest inspirations had appeared, but all were perfect to taste.

AST pie

Even after we were all full and swearing off ever eating again, we stayed. The conversation continued to flow and friendships became stronger.

Finally, the skies had darkened, as the sun had set behind the ever-present, gray blanket of clouds. We started dividing up the extras between ourselves, and running dishes and chairs back to the appropriate houses, splashing through the newly formed lakes and rivers around the complex.

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We said good-night and sloshed our way back to our own homes, full, tired and feeling grateful for new friends and the holiday that brought us together.

Today, I sit here, eating my Thanksgiving leftovers, listening to the constant pouring of rain, and watching the puddle in our living room slowly growing bigger, and I can’t believe how absolutely blessed I feel! If you had told me one year ago that this is where I would be today, I would have laughed, and then cried because of how far away and unreachable this life felt.

I want to thank Nate, for making this dream come true, for stepping away from his comfortable, recently acquired, dream job, to follow a different and unfamiliar path.

I want to thank my kids for being resilient and adventurous, willing to say goodbye to their friends, family and home, and for, mostly, happily following their unconventional, crazy parents to the other side of the world.

I want to thank our family for supporting us through all our crazy ideas over the years, never knowing which one would take us away, and now, not knowing when or if we’ll ever move back.

Last, I want to thank you, my loyal reader, for showing interest in our adventures, for giving me the encouragement and motivation to keep writing and sharing our stories. I wouldn’t be here, if not for you.

I pray that we can all find a way to be in our own dream location by this time next year!

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you find your own outside-the-box way to travel and live.

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