This is the first year in my life that I’ve been so far from home on Thanksgiving. The past few Thanksgivings have been a little different, but this year was especially abnormal. I’m in India. 8,000 miles away.
As promised, I tried my best to make Thanksgiving food for my host mom. My friend Mimi and I live in families that don’t eat garlic, onions, mushrooms, or eggs – all things that are usually crucial to anything that I cook. I mean c’mon, I’m Italian – it’s a sin to cook without garlic and onions. The spices are different here, the vegetables are different here, and the ovens….are toasters. Despite the struggles of cooking in a very different kitchen, we tried our bests and we had a good laugh about the pitiful results. Bland mashed potatoes, dry pasta, burnt stuffing, and black apple crumble it is.
We sat down and served our families together. Mimi said “Feel free to add any spices you want” and we giggled as our host moms stood up to gather up the spices they could to attempt to fix our tasteless dishes.
We shared with our families the tradition of saying what you’re grateful for over dinner.
Afterwards, we lit the final diya (candle) for this months Indian festival of lights.
It was a simple but meaningful Thanksgiving. It didn’t have to be anything more and it wasn’t and it was beautiful. Every year, Thanksgiving is a day when I think about my life a lot. I think of everything that I have to be grateful for. Being here has made me realize a lot that is hard to explain.
I would not have done anything differently. All of the moments in my life, everyone I have met, every trip I have ever taken, every success I have ever enjoyed, every blunder I have ever made, every loss I have endured has been just right. I am not saying that they were all good or that they happened for a reason… but they have been right. They have been okay. As far as revelations go, it’s pretty lame, I know. Okay is not bliss or even happiness. Okay is not the basis for a new religion or self help movement. Okay won’t get me on Oprah, but okay is a start and for that I am grateful. Can I thank India for this breakthrough? It’s hard to say. It is a strange place, peculiar in ways large and small. You lose your bearings here, and when that happens a crack forms in your armor. A crack large enough, if you’re lucky, to let in a few shafts of light.