Total Miles: 2,986.5
Just north of Frankfurt, Germany – November 25, 2016
Thanksgiving always conjures memories of the long dining room table in my parents’ house. I think of the wooden edge set with plates, forks, spoons, and knives, of the tile center crammed with hot dishes, of cups of gravy, sticks of butter, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, greens, cranberries, warm bread, pie after pie, and, of course, the turkey, golden brown, steaming heat as it’s pulled out of the oven and carved.
That is the Thanksgiving I grew up with, it’s the Thanksgiving in my imagination. It isn’t a tiny, fold out table, in a camper-van for a breakfast. Not until today.
They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the Netherlands, but Goswin has seen enough American movies to know about it and he knew that they don’t celebrate it in Germany either. If I was going to have a Thanksgiving, he would have to make it happen.
So yesterday evening, he got in his van and drove from the Netherlands to Germany, drove out to find me, to bring a bit of “trail magic” to the E1 like cookouts at road crossings and soda left in coolers on the Appalachian Trail.
“You need a Thanksgiving,” he said.
We met for breakfast.
Nothing about it was what one expects on Thanksgiving. It was Friday morning instead of dinner on Thursday. He pan-fried steak in butter instead of an oven-baked turkey. We had a tiny fold out table for two inside his camper van instead of a dining room filled with family and friends.
But in the end, sitting in that warm van eating breakfast, the differences faded to nothing. It was talking, laughing, telling stories. It was friendship and gratitude. It was all the important parts of Thanksgiving, the parts that matter.