Happy day after Thanksgiving everyone!
I was going to write a post last night after my own Thanksgiving festivities, but I got home much later than intended from the most kick-ass Thanksgiving ever, so this is coming a day late. But let me tell you about how a girl far from home spent her Thanksgiving yesterday.
Let’s back up. First of all, Thanksgiving and I don’t have a great track record. My family’s never been super big on that whole traditional Thanksgiving. Usually the highlights of my day are either skiing or watching that National Dog Show, which is bigger than the Super Bowl in our house. But in general, Thanksgiving is not the mega holiday for us that it is all over the country.
So when I moved to England and had my first Thanksgiving away from home, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. And really, it wasn’t. But that was the only day of my entire time in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter, that I’ve ever been homesick. Granted, this homesickness lasted for about twenty-five minutes, and was probably a result of me being actually sick at the time. But overall, it was a weird and uncomfortable day.
So I didn’t know what this Thanksgiving would bring. Perhaps it would be me, Charlie Brown-style, at a folding table with pretzels and popcorn. Maybe it would be spent in a McDonalds. Maybe I’d just take a heavy dose of Ambien and sleep through the whole thing.
But then a friend from my program invited me to what she lovingly termed a “homeless Thanksgiving” for students who didn’t have anywhere to go. With some trepidation, knowing that I am incredibly inept at situations that require interaction with people my own age, I accepted.
And it was freaking fantastic. One of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever had, if not the best.
We were thirteen people strong – five Americans from four different states, two Nigerians, four Singaporeans, one Indian, and a Canadian. For some people, it was the first Thanksgiving, and while we ate, we explained why we cook turkey, the origins of the holiday, and about how eggnog comes from the noxious nog mines of eastern Kentucky1.
We had traditional Thanksgiving food, and we had curry. We also had a black forest chocolate cake2. I stayed for a lot longer than I planned, mostly because I just felt really welcome there. Instead of doing what I generally do at parties, which is get social anxiety and sit in a corner with a diet coke all night, I actually found myself contributing to the conversation3. And enjoying it. I even made a few witty retorts, the sort that I usually keep sheathed when I’m around people I don’t know for fear of coming off as weird, because sometimes my sarcasm can be so advanced people think I’m actually stupid4. But that didn’t happen – my personality was well received! And my brand-new red t-strap high heels helped me rock a killer outfit.
The whole night made me think about this past week in my literary criticism class, where we had what I thought was a very frustrating discussion about race theory. By the end of it, the class, much to my dismay, basically came to the conclusion that white Americans are terrible, racist hooligans who had no respect for other races and cultures and that interracial communication is near impossible because we’re all racist. It pleased me greatly to watch every one of those ideas be proven wrong last night. This Thanksgiving wasn’t about where you were from; it was just a lot of people, really far from home, who were looking for somewhere to be a part of, and so became simultaneously the welcomers and the welcomed, givers and receivers. Those who made this community, and those who inhabited it. And that is, for me, what I’ve always thought Thanksgiving was about, that elusive thing that had always been missing in every celebration I had ever been a part of before. Last night, I think I finally figured out why everyone likes Thanksgiving so much.
It was a Thanksgiving I will never forget, and it made me thankful to be part of a global community of people who can sit down together on a Thursday night in a stranger’s apartment and enjoy a huge amount of food.
- Everything we told them might not have been true.
- Less relevant, I just really wanted to mention that.
- Especially when the conversation turned to Sherlock, as it so often does when I’m around.
- This definitely happened with NPR.