Thanksgiving Murhpy Law and living abroad style!

 A week before Thanksgiving, I sent an Facebook message to all the Language Assistants about how we were going to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was disappointed when our various schedules didn’t align to celebrate on the day or on the weekend and we proposed to celebrate Dec 1st.

How about 2 Thanksgivings? I thought. So I put out the idea to everyone and asked a few non-American friends if they’d like to celebrate on Turkey day and was happy when some agreed.

SImpsons Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving day, I went to two different stores to pick up ingredients though I didn’t bother to go out of my way to find a Turkey or Cranberry sauce. A chicken will do. Giving myself 3 hours to prepare and cook- stuffing, brussel sprouts and roast a chicken- is sufficient, I thought. I had just cut up a Barra de pan integral, wheat baguette and pulled the toasted bread cubes out of the oven and was sautéing chopped celery and onions for the stuffing when my oven and stove shut off. I wasn’t even half way through cooking. Wait, what?

I quickly did a google search about how to fix my stove and oven but gave up quickly when I didn’t know my model number. Time is of the essence. I need a quick solution.

 Remaining calm, I flipped the switches on the electrical panel which my flat mate had done the day before when are lights went out during the middle of the day for no apparent reason.

Easy- I’ll just flip the switch and I’ll continue.

 The main switch didn’t change a thing so I happily flipped each and every switch on the panel and crossed my fingers, everything would be working again.  Nope. Nothing.

I called my landlady, who I had just gotten off the phone with a minute earlier before everything shut of, and surprise, she didn’t answer. I called her a few more times only to hear the sound of her voice mail. If she’s not going to answer my call, I’ll explain the situation and the fact I’m having a holiday dinner via text (in Spanish). Nothing. (I’m noticing an unfortunate trend with my landlady- when she needs something she’s quick to be on my case but when I need something, she disappears. She’s shady but that’s another story).

I called my room mate, who assumed I had put the stove on “lock mode” and was kind enough to come over to check things out but had no idea how to fix it. He tried the control panel. Nada.

My Thanksgiving plate

My Thanksgiving plate


My landlady showed up like a whirlwind, high heels clanking against the wood floors as she looked at the stove and oven and tried to turn them on. Then she hobbled to the electrical panel and flipped switches. Yup, already did that. She hurriedly left but promised me someone was coming, an older, skinny guy with glasses who often comes to our house to check on things and who gets mail sent to our mailbox. Weird. 

 He came over, checked everything out and then started pulling out the washing machine to check cables for humidity, assuming that caused the failure. My brain rapidly fired off possibilities of what I could do because I was going to have Thanksgiving dinner, come heaven or high water. 

But is this a sign? Am I not supposed to celebrate Thanksgiving? I wondered. Nah, I shrugged off the idea and continued prepping the Brussels sprouts while I texted my friend Emilie in English and half listened to this repair guy/landlady personal helper talk to me in Spanish. An hour had passed and I knew there wasn’t enough time to roast a chicken now. Great. I need a Plan B.

I call another friend who was coming over in less than an hour and both my landline phone had stopped working (along with the internet) so I called him on a borrowed cell phone. (My iphone was in the shop and the repair guy was kind enough to loan me one- cuz a gal needs her Whatsapp, free text messaging!) He answered and then seem to hang up on me after I said, Hola Hola, Joel, Can you hear me?” I called him back two more times and the same scenario played out. He either can’t hear me or doesn’t know who I am.

Shit. Nothing is working. Why oh why? Leave it to Murphy for everything to hit the fan and go to pieces.

But I don’t give up easily. Call it a defect in my personality or a positive trait; I always keep trying until all possibilities are scratched off the list. 

Thankfully I had a back up cell phone. I called Joel again, explained the situation and asked if I could come over to cook the stuffing and Brussels sprouts and 15 minutes later I was ringing his doorbell. 

A bit anxious and he was laughing, telling me to take it easy and offered to help. 


Delicious Thanksgiving  Food

Delicious Thanksgiving Food


Thankfully Emilie was wise and offered to pick up a roast chicken near her house. The plan was to cook everything and then bring it all back to my place but my friends were cool with staying at their place.

 We push back dinner by 30 minutes and at 10:45pm we gather around the table with a few of us sitting on the sofa, and we all appreciate a delicious meal and good company. We were all grateful to celebrate Thanksgiving together, despite the change in plans.

 I was also happy my friends- an awesome Valenciana and her boyfriend from Catalunia could join us, who were eager to try a “Thanksgiving dinner.”

Ridiculous Thanksgiving Portrait

Ridiculous Thanksgiving Portrait

 I’ve never really cared much about Thanksgiving until moving to Spain  and now realize the holiday is less about the food and more about the people you spend it with. Next year, I hope to be celebrating with my family in California and for the first time, I will not care if the mashed potatoes and Turkey are cold and broccoli over cooked. What matters; will be together.

 Sometimes it takes leaving what you know to really appreciate what you had/have.



Update on my oven/stove: Thankfully with a little persistence calling my landlady she sent an electrician to fix the issue.  Turns out the electrical switch for the oven and washing machine was reversed. Every time I switched it “off,” I was actually switching it “on” and then “off” again but I had no idea and I didn’t know which switch was what because they weren’t labeled. Thankfully everything is working again, Internet and my stove/oven! Woo hhoo!

 Has Spending Thanksgiving or other holidays abroad given you new perspective or appreciation? Have you ever had a Murphy Law type of holiday? 

P.S. Stay tuned for some happy new changes coming soon on Roamingtheworld! I’m working up the courage to make the transition to self-host my blog and build a facebook page! 


2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Murhpy Law and living abroad style!

  1. That’s some serious persistence. If it were me, I would have just ordered take-out. Then again, I don’t remember if they have take-out in Spain. A for effort.

  2. Oh my gosh, I would have freaked out if that happened to me! It’s awesome that it all turned out well in the end.

    Spending Thanksgiving abroad has definitely made me appreciate the holiday a lot more. Did you tell your guests about the turkeys the president pardons every year? My friends all thought it was so funny!

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