Saturday, November 27, 2010


Thanksgiving is my favorite (secular) holiday. It is a holiday that traditionally comes from a historical celebration of the first harvest after settlers arrived in the “Promised Land” that is now the United States. On this day, we celebrate the first harvest by gathering around a table filled with lots of seasonal foods such as pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes and, of course, turkey.

It has become my favorite holiday because there are so few expectations on it. No gifts to give, no huge preparations to make. Just family, friends and food. It doesn’t get any better than that!

I have made it my tradition that, in the season of being “thankful” on “Thanksgiving,” I make sure to record at least one thing I am thankful for every day in the month of November (Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday in November). Also, as we gather with friends to share in a harvest-themed feast, we go around and each share at least one thing we are thankful for. Sometimes it feels a little cheesy or cliche, but really, truly, we all have much to be thankful for, and spent too little time expressing that gratitude.

So this year, as I am far, far away from home and many other Americans, I have done my bit not to let this holiday just pass me by. I was overwhelmed with messages wishing me well on Thanksgiving, and greatly appreciated the thoughts and efforts of especially my friends here in South Africa.

I spent Thanksgiving day with my “family” here in South Africa, and while we didn’t share in a traditionally Thanksgiving meal, somehow, I suppose with a bit of subconscious effort, we did share in an “American” meal: I made (ostrich) burgers, salad, corn on the cob for dinner… and even apple pie for dessert. Certainly a first for a Thanksgiving day meal, but delightfully delicious all the same.

Then came the next day: Black Friday. While Americans all over were out shopping and kicking off the Christmas season, I was preparing for a day-late Thanksgiving feast with friends. Kyle (a fellow American working for the Methodist Church of Southern Africa) and I had planned for it and together joined forces to prepare a feast! We had it all: turkeys (3!), stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, jello salad, sweet corn… and of course pumpkin and apple pies.

At first we thought we’d have too much food, but it turned out we had underestimated the ability of our friends to eat! It was a great feast, a wonderful celebration, and remains my favorite holiday no matter where in the world I am. And today, two days after the official “Thanksgiving” day, I am overwhelmed with the number of things and people in my life I have to be thankful for.

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