Friday, November 19, 2010

Do they have Thanksgiving in Germany?

Despite the obvious reasons why Thanksgiving is an American holiday, people still ask me if Germans celebrate Thanksgiving. To be honest, it's not such a stupid question since Canada has their own Thanksgiving and it is always asked by intelligent people. This week, I started thinking about the different holidays in Germany and the US. There are some holidays Americans celebrate that would never fly here such as VJ Day but that barely flies in the US any more. however, most of the German public holidays would cause so much controversy in the US. Most German public holidays are somehow based in religion, specifically Christianity. We get days off for All Saints Day (Nov. 1), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Corpus Christi (I always thought this was a city in Texas). We don't have many non-religious holidays besides reunification (Oct. 3) and labor day (May 1) and even this is lost if it falls on a weekend. You can see the whole line-up for 2011 here. Most of these holidays would scream for separation of church and state. However, Thanksgiving is different.

Thanksgiving is really a holiday every country should adopt. Maybe we could have a world Thanksgiving. A day to take time out from your normal life and eat a decadent mid-week dinner with your family and/or close friends. A day to be Thankful for what you have in and the people who you love and love you. A day to share your "harvest" and enjoy the people in your life. I know Germans have resisted other American "holidays" due to their commercial nature (i.e. Halloween or Valentine's Day) but Thanksgiving is not really commercial at all. You don't even need to kill a Turkey, vegetarians like Thanksgiving too.

Oddly enough, this year I won't be having a Thanksgiving. Due to several factors, mostly my work schedule next week, we choose not to prepare a turkey this year. I know it is the right decision but part of me still wishes we could have a bunch of people over to sit around our long table and eat a stuffed bird. There's something special about Thanksgiving that I'll miss this year. I'm hoping I can get through the week and at least have time to bake an apple pie or maybe I can try my new whoopie pie pan out!

Maybe next year, I'll be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in the US with my family. The last Thanksgiving I had with my family was in 2005 when I was still at URI. That seems so long ago and so does college. Would you adopt Thanksgiving in Germany? Do you think other countries would take it on board too?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Putting the Pieces Together

After a wedding, there's still a lot to do to merge two lives. I started playing the name change game the day we returned fro our honeymoon. We had about 8 hours in RI before flying home so I hit up Social Security where a very friendly an changed my name. He asked if I wanted to keep my maiden name as a middle name which was kind of stressful in the moment. Clearly I had already thought this through and made a decision. He had to remind me of the option I turned down and for a milisecond I thought about saying yes. Then I remembered that my maiden name has 10 letters, my first name has 8 and my new last name has 7, add on the 3 in my current middle name and I'd have to fit 28 letters on every form for the rest of my life, no thank you. Considering I live in a country which requires you to use all of your legal names on everything, I can only imagine what my ATM card would look like if I had chosen to keep both names. unfortunately, I could not change my licence due to the antiquated system that only updates every 24 hours but it's not such a big deal as my licence is due to expire in 2011 anyway so I'll have to get it taken care of sooner or later.
Last Friday, I mailed off my passport to begin the name change process on this side of the Atlantic. Until it comes back, I can't get on a plane or legally cross any boarders so I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new identification. I'm not even sure if I have any way to legally prove my permission to stay without it. When I get my new passport the fun really begins. I'll need to renew my permission to stay in my new name, change my buss pass at an office that always has lines, change my address at the post office, change my name with HR and most significantly change my email addresses! My work email will need to be changed but what about my personal email address? How long can I use the two addresses containing my old name? I'd like to keep them but that can be confusing, especially in a couple of years when I start the job search again. Which reminds me, I'll need to change my resume.
Despite all of that work to change my name, I will still be me. Somehow, I feel like I need to alter my image in order to fit my new persona. I was thinking a hair cut and wardrobe injection, two things I could use anyway. Any other idea? Should I change my email addresses or just leave them alone for now?