I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK) from a town outside of Pittsburgh, but I grew up in the metropolitan country of Qatar, located in the Middle East. I loved the life I was fortunate to grow up living and would not have traded it for anything.
But, like the majority of situations in life, some definite pros and cons came from growing up overseas. One of these cons was that because I grew up in a country that was not America, Thanksgiving was not a holiday that I had off from school to celebrate, and it was not as big of a day that it is here in the United States of America.
Growing up overseas, Thanksgiving to me consisted of going to school, telling people Happy Thanksgiving (finding out who celebrated it based off their responses was always exciting and at times embarrassing), going home, eating dinner and doing homework. Our dinner would be a small Thanksgiving dinner because the holiday’s traditional foods are expensive in Qatar since they are imported — a turkey would cost around $100 or more.
With that said, moving to the United States of America for college presented its new traditions in my life. One of these would be having a few days off from school to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones. Since my family still lives overseas, I have been blessed to have families invite me over to their homes to celebrate the holiday and enjoy a small break from campus. With that said, my freshman year consisted of me joining my loud and crazy extended Italian family for a fancy feast that seemed like we were dining at a five-star restaurant — fancy linens and all.
My sophomore year my friend from school invited me over to her home for Thanksgiving, and it was fun! Her family had many different dishes that were traditional Thanksgiving dishes as well as numerous other dishes that were traditional to their Polish family. One overall theme I noticed these two years was that people not only loved the delicious dining, but they also anticipated spending time with family and friends.
As this past Thanksgiving has just ended, I am thankful to say that my mother flew home to the US from Qatar, and we were able to spend the holiday together. I must admit that it was sad because my whole family was not around a table together and the loudness and laughter that my family brings was missed. The delightful conversation between my mother and I is one that I will cherish forever. This past Thanksgiving was one where we tried to experience and have for ourselves a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Now to answer the lingering questions:
Yes, we bought a turkey even though we were only two people indulging in it. Yes, it was one big bird. Yes, neither of us ever cooked a turkey before. Yes, we were slightly confused by how to master the carving of it — thank you to the video from TIME for helping me understand where to start. Yes, we had tons of food on our table and were stuffed after having a one plateful of food. Yes, we anticipated having loads of leftovers — but not this many. However, yes, we had an incredible day having a Thanksgiving table for two.
Although I enjoyed my Thanksgiving this year and the tasks my mother and I accomplished, I became more appreciative of the years growing up not having Thanksgiving as a nationally celebrated holiday.
By not having a day set aside for giving thanks has allowed me to see each day as an opportunity to be thankful for what God has given me. I am by no means saying that people who celebrate Thanksgiving are not thankful every day, but I do think that Thanksgiving can get wrapped up in the tangible objects and the elaborate meal instead of what the whole holiday is about — expressing your thanks for what you have.
To live with a heart of thankfulness should be a daily delight, not a one-day experience that only occurs on Thanksgiving.
The turkey was delicious, the mashed potatoes tasted just like my grandmother’s and the pumpkin pie was divine.
But the company of my mother and the conversations we carried about what we were thankful for and how blessed we are was far better than any meal I will ever eat.
I am thankful for my Thanksgiving table for two.
Feature image credit: Giovanna Albanese