Yesterday the Hansard Scholars celebrated thanksgiving (a day late but still worth it). We had a small turkey and two small chickens plus all the trimmings. My assignments were green beans and fruit salad (one of the people in the flat is lactose intolerant so we needed a non-dairy dessert...plus it's probably good to have a non-fatty one as well). It was great to see the international students making their own traditional dishes to add to our feast as well as see them experiencing thanksgiving for the first time. We used all three flat kitchens to cook in and had the birds in one, stuffing and mashed potatoes in another, and desserts (pies) in the last. It was definitely helpful for me to have people in London that wanted to make sure Thanksgiving was still celebrated because it made me less homesick. It is interesting to think that some holidays are only celebrated some places. Like the US doesn't celebrate Boxing Day or Australia Day, but they are huge holidays in other countries. Living in my own bubble in the US I barely realized that holidays create different cultures in a lot of ways. It's not hard to find turkey and stuffing in London on Thanksgiving but in the US you'd be lucky to not get a frozen one that wouldn't be thawed in time for the big meal! It's just a different way to look at things I guess. For example, someone coming from a foreign country to the US wouldn't understand why everyone was buying so much food one week in November, just like Americans wouldn't understand a day off for hunting the day after Christmas in the UK.
Back to the feast... we had authentic Dutch Apple pie from a girl from the Netherlands, Baklavia (which is a different version of Baklava), baked carrots (which were never a big thing for my thanksgiving dinner), five different kinds of corn casseroles, breads, etc. Someone even noticed I put almond extract in my green beans! Amazes me some of the taste palates these kids have! It was good to have everyone make something traditional from their normal Thanksgiving celebration as well because then we were sharing a little bit with each other too. In all Thanksgiving was different for me this year, but it was more like what the holiday was supposed to be about... giving thanks and sharing food and culture. I appreciate this new perspective on the holiday. We played charades after dessert which was quite hilarious... some didn't understand commonly used symbols for the game and some submissions were from different countries so didn't exactly translate. Then... the fire alarm went off, and we were kicked out of the flat. But "WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE" (this became our theme song for the rest of the night). However it was really true that we didn't start it. There was some burned rubber down in the basement flats. Took us an hour or so to get back in because we had to wait for the fire department to clear the building. After that excursion, about six of us were left to clean up the mess. Luckily we made it fun, so it went by pretty fast! I noticed on this study abroad that some college aged kids have very different ideas about cleanliness and cleaning dishes... let's just say there were lots of filled sinks that a few people had to clean up after others with. I am glad though that I still was able to have a Thanksgiving experience even though I was an ocean away from my family. In some ways it taught me that tradition does not always mean celebrating your holidays in the exact same way every year, year after year, but rather finding your own joy in the holiday and recreating that for yourself whether you are in the same place or with the same people or not.