There are no pots or pans clanging as the sun rises. No relatives laughing, cooking, baking or drinking together. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is not on TV. I awake to silence.
There is a dinner with the American ambassador that is traditional in the sense that there is a fat turkey in the middle of every table, but cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and relatives are not present.
A day later, there is another Thanksgiving dinner, but with friends. A “friendsgiving”, if you will. We assign foods to each other and I attempt to teach traditions of the American holiday.
The girls dress in skirts and tights while boys wear button down shirts and dress pants with a belt. In the kitchen three of us peel potatoes, another three fry the chicken in egg yoke and flour. We set the table with plastic forks knives and plates. We stand around the dining room table decorated with food and say how thankful we are to possess the ability to stand around a mahogany table with an abundance of food scattered in colorful plastic containers steaming with warmth.
All nationalities are represented through the dishes. From a rice and beans dish, to hummus to broccoli to brussels sprouts to ham to baguette.
We sing Christmas songs. We drink green tea and eat our broccoli with chopsticks. And suddenly, it feels how it is supposed to. Suddenly it feels like home, like a family. An aroma of gratitude and genuine joy floods the house, even when the dinner table lacks a slow-roasted turkey stuffed and served on a silver platter. No family gossip, fights over politics or drunk uncles, just a group of friends fortunate enough to have each other’s company.
The experience serves as a reminder that a location nor a tradition dictate a holiday. The people you chose to surround yourself with dictate a holiday.