– by Jessica Edney
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the USA, and while I’m not American, I have some fond memories of this celebration. When I lived in Tokyo as a teenager, I knew quite a few American expats and my family and I were sometimes invited to join in with their celebrations. I remember at one Thanksgiving dinner, each guest was given an autumn leaf, on which to write something that they were thankful for. The leaves were then collected and hung onto a small indoor tree, similar to this one (from The Real Housewife blog):
Then there was last year, when I was an au pair in Milan. My lovely friend Sally from Chicago (also an au pair) cooked up an amazing feast for her host family to show them a sample of American culture and invited me along too. Quite apart from the girdlebusting food, I remember that evening with great happiness because although I had never met Sally’s host family before, they treated me as one of them.
Sometimes I wish that the UK had a festival like Thanksgiving. I do love Christmas (I’m not a puritan!), but I don’t like how commercialised it has become. As far as I know, presents are not an important part of Thanksgiving – rather it is all about gratitude, family and food (my three favourite things). When I think back on Christmasses past, I can barely remember the presents I gave or received. But I have cherished memories of singing carols in my school choir, telling my little brother stories about Father Christmas and cooking Christmas dinner for the first time. It just goes to show that material things quickly lose their sparkle, but experiences last.
To round off this post, since it is almost Thanksgiving, I want to share my own gratitude. 2015 has been an incredible year and so much has changed! I’m so grateful for:
- The Couchsurfing hosts in Japan that put me up, fed me, entertained me and sang karaoke at 2am with me back in May this year
- The opportunity to study anthropology at university, and the wonderful people I’ve met on the course
- My grandma, for taking this financially-challenged, wide-eyed student into her home, and for making me coffee every morning!
- My mum, for trusting me to manage this blog (we won’t mention the time I locked us both out of the admin page…) and for all of the emotional and, let’s face it, financial support she gives me.
- …the fact that I am healthy, well-nourished, educated and usually cheerful.
Well that’s me, but what are you guys grateful for?