Tuesdays Unwrapped: Open doors

I’m so excited that Emily has extended the invitation to unwrap more gifts on a Tuesday. I don’t know about you, but I need to be more purposeful in my thanks giving, and Tuesdays Unwrapped is the perfect opportunity to do that. Join us?

PS If you are new here, the following post makes more sense if you know that I am an American expat living in Europe. Otherwise, I sound like a crazy person. Because only crazy people take German lessons and get a turkey from a butcher unless, of course, they live in Switzerland.

I managed to procure the turkey. I am happy to report that at no time did I imitate a turkey by gobbling or resort to hand drawn bird cartoons during my two visits to the butcher. It wasn’t without a little drama and some embarrassment on my part, but the bird was purchased, cooked, and eaten with delight.

Around the holidays, we try to make the experience feel as authentic as possible, but it’s never quite the same. For one, there is no indulging the tryptophanic stupor when Thanksgiving falls on a regular school day. There isn’t Mom’s Cornbread Dressing or Aunt Carol’s Apple Pie to run off the next morning. And there are no familiar hugs and how are you’s. There is thanksgiving sandwiched between everyday and life.

On Friday, my German tutor asked me about it. She wondered how we fit the bird in our (not much bigger than an easy bake) oven, and if I could find all the fixings at the supermarket. Then she told me about a few of her family Christmas traditions; the advent wreath, the Christmas goose, and Grandfather trimming the tree on Christmas eve while the children wait expectantly in the next room. She showed me a photograph of her mother’s dog called Lia, and one of her nephew who is two and best babysat during nap time.

My eyes watered a little, and the photos blurred.

As we talked, I realized that the consistent feeling of being on the outside looking in, was starting to shift. As if the front door had been opened without my having to knock, and someone had called my name to invite me in. I felt like I’d been given a gift, an invitation to know and be known by another. And if all I can do is say ‘Hello, my name is Frau Coyle’ after four hours of lessons, then I’m still coming away having learned far more than how to make an introduction.

I’m not sure if she realized the difference she’d made, but that night I gave thanks for the gift, for the open door, the invitation and the chance to find something lovely sandwiched between everyday and life.


  • I love this post because the “thanksgiving” sort of surprises us even in our homesickness. We are far away from our family, too, and have not been home for Thanksgiving in seven years. I find that I am both sad, but also happy for the things that I find I am thankful for.

    (Visiting from Chatting at the Sky.)

  • So thankful I found you from Tuesdays Unwrapped. I am impressed with your German and living overseas. My hubby was stationed in Germany for three years and I really didn’t learn much. I did feel like an outsider and counted down the days to come home. Looking back, wasted time, probably. Blessings.

  • I loved reading this and am so happy to have connected with you via Tuesdays Unwrapped. Can’t wait to read more of your words.

  • ” …an invitation to know and be known by another.”

    A great gift to receive … and to give. May your holiday season be a blessed one full of invitation and friendship and love.

    – Jennifer Dukes Lee
    Contributing Editor, TheHighCalling.org

  • Visiting from Chatting at the Sky…

    Grateful to have found you through Tuesdays Unwrapped. Enjoyed your Thanksgiving account. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kimberly, your gift here read like a movie scene – from the cartoon-less visit to the butcher to the not much bigger than an easy bake oven to the gracious sharing of Christmas traditions. Thank you for making me slow for the reading – a gift in itself today.

  • I loved reading this. What a gift that was to be invited into someone’s life…God always knows what we need and exactly when we need it. Precious. Thanks for stopping by to visit me too. 🙂

  • My in-laws live in Belgium, where I suspect the attitude is similar, to stay closed off until a level of trust is secured.

    When the door opens, and one is invited in…precious and priceless. That day you became more than the student, more than the expat.

  • I love the green trailing down. I grow that little plant in my front box on my tiny porch. And somehow, inconceivably, it always comes back after winter.

  • *sigh*

    This makes me cry. The part about feeling like you’ve been invited in.

    And it makes me laugh and cheer for you. For pushing on and getting that turkey and making it fit in your oven and making sweet memories in a brand new world. Yay, you!

    (BTW – You might enjoy this blog: http://fraukmwest.blogspot.com/ Kathy spent time as an expat in Germany. That’s where she was living when I first “met” her. I think you two might like each other.)