A lot of blogs featured “things I feel thankful for” types of posts just before Thanksgiving, which was yesterday here in the US. I didn’t join them because, frankly, I haven’t been feeling I had much to be thankful for recently.
However, spending Thanksgiving Day with my husband’s family, and a long phone conversation in the evening, put a few things into perspective for me.
One Man’s Yummy is Another Man’s Disgusting
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. While many cultures celebrate some sort of harvest festival, our Thanksgiving feasts feature foods that are unique to us.
We don’t realize what’s unique when it’s “normal” for everyone around us.
One summer years ago, we hosted a French exchange student. Before he left, we put on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for him and several of the other students and their host families.
We served a sweet potato casserole with marshmallow on top. It’s part of our traditional Thanksgiving.
Fast forward to yesterday. . .
Our former exchange student phoned in the evening to wish us a happy Thanksgiving, and while we were talking he asked what foods we had served. “Did you have that delicious dish with the sweet potatoes and marshmallows?” he wanted to know.
“Yes we did,” I told him.
I then learned — 15 years after the event — that he and his friends had found it awful. It’s something no European could possibly like, he explained. Then followed a really interesting discussion of cultural differences.
And a few ideas dropped into place for me.
It’s Not All Good or Bad
Any experience — a job, a marriage, a friendship, a heritage — has its good and its bad points.
We all hope the good predominates, but after a pink slip or a breakup, we sometimes get too focused on the bad for a time.
I think I’ve been doing that, but I’m going to try to change my focus.
Since March of last year, when the US economy hit the skids and I lost my job, I’ve felt very cynical about this country. I’m an American, and I’ve always loved my country, but I was not proud of it.
The financial meltdown has devastated my finances and speeded up my plans to expatriate. I’ve felt angry and bitter.
Thanksgiving Day, 2010, showed me a better perspective.
Does the US have big problems right now? Certainly. Are they unsurmountable? Maybe. It depends.
But it’s not all bad and the American people have a lot of good qualities.
Going forward, I’m going to try very hard to remember the good.
And I’m thankful to be able to do that.
Have you recently found something to be thankful for? What was it?
Photo by minimalistphotography101 on flickr
So true, problems may be there but the best way is to be aware of them, solve them and be thankful for whatever we have got. Though we do not celebrate Thanksgiving but I think it is a lovely tradition – an expat life truly gives you the opportunity to understand and appreciate other cultures!
Thanks, Arwa, for taking the time to comment. Do the Netherlands not celebrate any kind of harvest festival in the autumn?