This year, my Thanksgiving went a little differently than usual. Whereas Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States, it is not celebrated in India. This was the first major American holiday I got a chance to share with my host family.
The first step to celebrating Thanksgiving is to make sure you don't have other plans to interfere with preparation of the Thanksgiving meal. Since, like I just mentioned, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in India that often, this meant I had to take a day off from school (yay!).
In the morning, I woke up at a reasonable time with no 5 km race to run, and everyone in the family hugged and wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving. The rest of the morning proceeded pretty normally, with a few messages exchanged between my school coordinator and I about the definition of Thanksgiving as a 'festival'. I also prepared a Thanksgiving lesson plan and Powerpoint for my Amitasha class though I won't be able to use it until next Friday. I took a shower and then headed with my host mom Le Marche to pick up all the ingredients we would need for the day. We were able to get everything, only forgetting to buy the Brussels Sprouts (which is pretty good since I usually forget what I need as soon as I leave the house). We came home and the rest of the day - from 12pm-7pm was spent as a mixture of cooking and relaxing in the house with a couple of miscellaneous trips to the market. We faced surprisingly little difficulty in preparing the Thanksgiving Dinner (which, by the way, consisted of hash brown potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, chicken and pies) considering my lack of cooking experience. Some of the dishes, like the chicken, had a little Indian masala added in to make it extra special. Let me tell you, that chicken tasted better than any Thanksgiving turkey I've had in the past! In the evening, two of my host massi's (aunts) came over for the meal. They very kindly and unexpectedly gifted me some chocolates and we also exchanged wishes of 'happy thanksgiving'. Soon enough, my dad arrived home and we put all the food onto the table. Everyone filled their plates, but before eating I said a prayer and everyone held hands and went around saying what we were thankful for. After that, everyone chowed down on one of the most delicious Thanksgiving meals I have had. All of our hard work had paid off in the end. One of the highlights of the meal was the dessert during which we took out our homemade pumpkin pie and not-so-homemade apple pie. The pumpkin pie was absolutely amazing! All the credit goes to my host mom who made this pie without really following a recipe - she is actually an amazing chef. One thing I did learn from watching her cook was that following the recipe to a 'T' isn't really the most important thing about preparing food. I think every dish we served had some sort of improvisation by my host mom, and they all turned out amazing. By the end of the meal, I was feeling as stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey and was ready to go to bed. I had a very very memorable Thanksgiving spent with the people I love most.
Remember how I told you I had to take a day off from school to make all this work? Well, my school coordinator didn't let me get off the hook that easily. I had to prepare a speech to give about Thanksgiving and to give thanks to everyone who has helped me during my exchange. This request was fair enough since speeches are one thing I feel comfortable enough doing; plus, it was a great opportunity to share American culture with my host school. Besides being a little bit lengthy, everyone liked my speech and told me I spoke well. Giving thanks did not end there for me since I followed my host mom's request to bring in some pumpkin and apple pie to give to principal ma'am and a couple other VIPs in my exchange. The pies were a huge success at school. Many people did not come to school the day after Thanksgiving because GTSE (Global Talent Search Examination) was taking place in the school and bunking school is the way to get out of taking it. But, as my class teacher told the exam invigilator, "she is not registered for the test but is here for one year and is taking part in every single activity we have to offer". The exam was not so bad, it was an English test. If you ask me, some of the questions were too hard for someone (me) who speaks English as their mother tongue. Getting to the point, I was able to share some leftover stuffing with my classmates who all agreed that it was very nice.
This Thanksgiving is one I will never forget. It has been the very best thanks to the efforts of my host family. It was our first Thanksgiving together as a family, and definitely not the last. I am incredibly thankful to everyone around the world who has been supporting me throughout this exchange and to everyone who is making this possible. An especially big thank you goes to my host family for making this day so special and memorable for me.
A very happy Thanksgiving from me to everyone around the globe!
Hi! My name is Anna McKane. I am 16 years old and have had a pretty ordinary life up to this point. I believe this experience will change me for the better and I will try everything I can while I am abroad.