So Thanksgiving is upon us , and I’m just as busy as you are . The volunteers in my area are getting together at my place to cook awkward leg and thigh chicken pieces in toaster ovens and different variations of potatoes and turnips. This is my first “adult” thanksgiving… where I’m in charge of logistics and what people will cook. Let me just say , any Thanksgiving after this will seem very easy … hopefully I will have a real oven.
I do have a story though. This past week I did a Thanksgiving themed English Club lesson where I showed a slideshow of various Thanksgivings and different traditions like football and the food etc. The 8 students who are the core of this club huddled around my computer as pictures flashed with different vocab words. Like gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie… finally the turkey pops up.
“This is a turkey” I said,” most families have a turkey for dinner on Thanksgiving”.
“Za, Za, Jinya Teacher” One student chimes ” But what is a turkey?” She switches to Mongolian.
“Its like…” I pause” … a big bird… a big wild bird” I say in broken Mongolian. “It makes a sound like ‘gobble, gobble'”.
Due to the blank stares on my students gave me, I’m pretty sure they had never heard that exact combination of consonants and vowels before today.
“Its like a big chicken. Its really a big fancy chicken” I gave up with fighting words.
With that my students found that an acceptable definition and then scribbled it down in their notebooks.
Just a typical exchange with my students that I thought you would enjoy. After that they watched highlights of last years Macy’s Day Parade, and they cooed over the marching bands which made my heart swell a little bit. We watched some football highlights and then wrapped it up with a clip about the history of Thanksgiving, discussing similar Mongolian holidays. All in all they found it very interesting, and asked me to make some pumpkin pie to try next lesson. Well I am no baker but for these kids I will try.
Of course doing a lesson on a holiday reminds me of why Thanksgiving is important to me. Growing up in an expat family, so far away from your ‘real’ family, it really cemented the idea that you make a family with those that you care about. Especially as I grew up and got invited by friends in college to spend the holidays with them, instead of alone, this idea got compounded – No matter where you are, who you’re with, you make your own tribe, you make your own family . Its this generosity of spirit and appreciating those around you that make Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays.
SO this year… what am I thankful for?
I am thankful for those people in this small mountain town that have made me feel at home and shared their culture with me. I’m thankful for my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers who I have commiserated and celebrated with over the last year and a half ish. I’m thankful for my friends and family around the world who I miss and are the best support system I could have ever asked for. I’m thankful for warm camel wool socks and hot milk tea on those cold days with flurries.
Finally , I’m thankful for the thought that next year I will be around family, friends and will eat a real turkey. Hopefully cooked in a real oven.
Enjoy your holiday, where every you maybe! – V.