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Posted by on Nov 21, 2012 in Blog, Culture |

Thanksgiving with Foreigners

Thanksgiving is an excellent holiday to spend with foreigners. When I think about it, Thanksgiving began as a holiday of foreigners sitting down together. Even though this Thursday I will be sitting around a table in Central PA with family, I remember eating escargot instead of turkey on Thanksgiving, and I fondly remember the six Thanksgivings I shared with foreigners and stragglers far from home.

The year I lived in Jacksonville I hosted a Guatemalan couple, their Colombian friend, and my friend Oksana who is originally from Kazakhstan. I will never forget the conversation that ensued at the dinner table when Carlos asked, “What is this holiday about anyway?” Oksana and I regaled them with a mix of US history and folklore involving Squanto, the Pilgrims, surviving the winter, and giving thanks together.

Carving the Turkey

Carving the Turkey in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the MA students from the US organized a feast and we invited all of our friends. The people who gathered came from Japan, Colombia, South Africa, Northern Ireland, the UK, Hungary, and Spain. Everyone brought a dish to share and yours truly brought the turkey. We all went around the room and said something we were thankful for, which were of course similar in spite of our nationality, color, or any other category we place people into. After dinner, we all sat in a circle and on the floor (there weren’t enough seats for everyone) and talked about our families, cultures, traditions, and norms. Which led to a hilarious discussion on dating norms across the world. At one point everyone in the room except those of us from the US collectively agreed that US dating practices are beyond both comprehension and reason. We laughed at each other. We laughed at ourselves. We realized life is rich and we were blessed.

Wherever you will be on Thanksgiving, and whomever you choose to celebrate with, enjoy the good food and company and give thanks for the differences and similarities that make us appreciate who we are and what is most important to us.