Today is the official Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, but even in Panama, many of us celebrate the day with family and friends gathering together around the dinner table with the traditional meal of turkey and pumpkin pie; and you don’t have to be from the U.S. to join in the festivities. The first Thanksgiving we were here in Pedasí, we spent the day at one of our friends’ home with many other expats from the U.S. and Canada, enjoying a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving potluck buffet. Last year we actually were in the U.S. and spent the day with my son and daughter and their families in Tucson, Arizona.
This year, it is a little different. Panama does not celebrate this fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving, although this weekend is another Panamanian Independence Day and the past week was a week-long celebration of the patron saint of Pedasí-Santa Catalina. So I woke up and realized the day was a normal day for the pueblo-children in uniforms walking to school, others on their way to work. There was no Macy’s Day Parade on the TV and no turkey thawing out in the refrigerator. Yes, there are still several homes and restaurants throughout the pueblo and Azuero serving the traditional meal and even showing the U.S. college football games if they have the satellite connections. But we chose something a little less traditional.
So this Thanksgiving a few of our friends who live in Las Tablas and Playa Rompio decided to get together and go to a restaurant (Villa Romana) in Los Destiladeros overlooking the ocean for lunch. One friend brought a couple who were visiting from Yakima, Washington. (Small world! My sister and brother-in-law live there.) Instead of turkey, we all had a delicious tuna dinner with wine or lemon sauce; instead of pumpkin pie, we had ice cream with a liqueur sauce. And instead of sweating over a hot stove, we sat around a table watching the waves crash onto the rocks below being served by an attentive waitress. And afterward, there were no dishes to wash; no cleanup at all; only good company, good food & drink, and good ambiance.
What is prevalent among all of us is how much we are thankful for being healthy enough in our later years to enjoy this less stressful “third life” here in Panama. We may be separated from our families and friends back in the U.S and miss them dearly, especially during the holidays. But we are thankful for the many new friends now who have become like a family to us.
Happy Thanksgiiving to all!