Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giving Thanks

Last Thursday was American Thanksgiving, and celebrating it away from home in Nepal is makes it a little more meaningful for me. I remember when I was a kid my dad telling me that Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday, and as a kid this struck me as an odd choice. I mean how could Thanksgiving compete with the sheer awesomeness that was all the gifts and decorations of Christmas, or the costumes and candy of Halloween, it seemed at best tied with Easter which gave a whole basket of candy but had the downside of a long church session. Thanksgiving seemed to just be a large dinner, some boring football games (which I no longer find boring). Point being is that it didn't seem to stand up to the other holidays that seem geared toward children.

The themes that a holiday is often supposed to make one reflect on are often overlooked for what is practiced in the practical terms. So for children (and maybe some adults) Christmas and birthdays are about the gifts, and Thanksgiving is about the food. As I've grown older though I've come around to my father's point of view, Thanksgiving is firmly my favorite holiday. Unlike other holidays that require gifts, cards and other distractions, Thanksgiving requires only that we come together in common company and give thanks simply for what we have. We do this by sharing a large meal together, and though the host often undertakes the larger part of the cooking, guests often bring plenty of side dishes and deserts.

Living in Nepal one is reminded on a daily basis of the material advantages that we have and often easily lose sight of. While one is certainly thankful for these things, one is also reminded of those back home that you are not with, and their absence reminds in a real way to also be thankful for their presence in your life. Technology being what it is I was able to converse with my mother and then my father's side of the family via Skype. It was great to be able to share some of that day with people half way around the world.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Kathmandu

As for our celebration here, Kim and I had a simple meal for the two of us. As you can't buy stuffing here I've learned to make it from scratch, which isn't very hard. I had cranberries shipped in from the U.S. via Harilo (Harlio is awesome by the way), and was able to make real cranberry sauce as well as throw some in the stuffing. We had roasted pumpkin, garlic whipped potatoes, corn, the stuffed chicken and a variety of vegetables cooked with the bird. For desert we had an apple crisp and all was served with cranberry juice and bottle of merlot.

Tomorrow I'll be putting together a similar meal, though with larger portions for friends that were away during the holiday. While the first run through made me thankful for what I have back home, tomorrow reminds me of the good that I have here as well, and surrounded by friends and hospitality in a foreign land is something that makes this experience that much better. It is easy, and human nature, to always be chasing after that which we are wanting for, and do not have. It is however much more worthwhile to sit for a moment and survey the bounty within your life, and really appreciate all that you already have before you.

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