Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It is November.

On Thanksgiving three years ago, my parents were visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and me in Denver, Colorado.
This year, they came to Pristina, Kosovo.
Located in a recent post conflict state, in the second newest country in the world, in an area which often has no power, no water, and no heat.

In a land whose air smells consistently horrible but whose pollution creates spectacular pink skyed sunsets.  

They came to spend the Thanksgiving season in Pristina where, if you can survive the thick clouds of cigarette smoke long enough to start a conversation with the bar tender or coffee girl or old woman baking bread, you will hear stories of war, of the good ol' communist days, of progress, of ancient recipes passed down verbally from generation to generation, of the time it takes to knit a pair of baby 
booties, of the recipe for Russian tea, of how to cure any ailment with the local liquor, Raki.  

In Pristina, it is still warm enough to walk during the day in a coat suited for fall though all the outdoor chairs and tables have already been removed.  

The main square -- Mother Theresa -- has become blanketed with red and white lights.  To an outsider, it appears decorated for the Christmas season; an insider knows the lights are to celebrate Flag Day -- Albania's {not Kosovo's} 100th Year of Independence.  Schools are closed for half the week to honor and recognize this holiday.  While locals walk dressed in all red and black, wearing t-shirts with the double headed eagle on their chests, hats called plis which take the shape of an eagle's egg, and the Albanian flag draped around their shoulders like the cape of Superman, internationals wear cringed expressions -- understanding the pride of a people recently surviving an ethnic cleanse, but knowing, interventions were not done to create an ethnic state.

In America, it is a season to be thankful, to reflect, to love, to remember what we have.
In Kosovo, it is a season to do the same.

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