Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and it will be my first time celebrating it away from my family. I find it bizarre, explaining to all of my students and friends here in France exactly what the tradition is. Yes, it recognizes the history of America. Yes, we can say the first Thanksgiving started when the Native Americans welcomed the Pilgrims to the country. Yes we eat turkey and pie. But really, it takes living from a distance to see how special this holiday is.
No matter what your background, religion, or social status, if you are American, you celebrate Thanksgiving. No matter where you are in the country, everyone celebrates togetherness. And even if you cannot get home, there will always be an invitation for you. In college, one of the priests from our church had a Thanksgiving dinner with his mom for all of the students who came from far away and couldn’t make it home for the day.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is each family’s own unique traditions. At my house, I run a 5 mile charity race in Philly early in the morning with my parents; it’s such a calm way to start the day. Family and friends arrive around noon, the wine is opened and we start snacking on appetizers. My cousins play football outside, and by the time dinner times comes we have worked up an appetite. We stuff our plates full, making sure our plates are colorful, with a little bit of everything. Everyone goes round the table and gives thanks for all of our blessings. After we cannot possibly eat anymore, we all lay down together and watch some football. Dessert comes later, after we have loosened or belts (or put on the elastic pants!).
I love to be surrounded by family and friends. Tomorrow, the Americans are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner party for all of our new French friends. I am so lucky not only to have Americans to celebrate with, but also new friends to share our tradition with.
What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions? What will all of my fellow ex-pats be doing? I hope wherever you are, your day is filled with many blessings!
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