Living abroad means that family traditions are challenging to keep, well, traditional. With friends from more countries than I have ever visited (though I hope to travel to them all throughout my lifetime), my appreciation for different cultures has greatly expanded. My appreciation for different tastes has also matured.
Growing up, I was never one to get excited about the typical Thanksgiving spread of turkey (too dry), gravy (too rich), mashed potatoes (too starchy), candied yams (too sweet), pumpkin pie (too earthy), and whatever else was on the table. [I don’t recall the menu because I only ate the bread stuffing — if it was baked in a pan and not actually stuffed inside the turkey.] Flash forward to my years in Singapore and I gladly took bits of each of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes as the experience made me feel closer to home.
This year we were blessed with two Thanksgiving dinners, both potluck style, which means everyone brings a dish to share. At the first dinner, approximately half of us were American, yet there was still no turkey and no pumpkin pie. I gladly filled my plate full of the still-western-style foods. At the second dinner, there were 15 countries represented. Here we had a myriad of flavors, from pork bulgogi and curry chicken to guacamole and fried plantains — along with turkey and bread stuffing. It was remarkable and even more delicious. Many of the attendees had never celebrated Thanksgiving before but they were thankful for being included in the festivities.
Thanksgiving isn’t just an American and Canadian holiday; giving thanks is recognizing the blessings in our lives regardless of the country or the day. We can give thanks every day. Voicing our thanks humbles us and reminds us of the love and care that surrounds each of us.