Published: November 25th 2011November 24th 2011
Very thankful for good friends, Liz's dad, and the sushi craze that has taken over Portugal.
Thanksgiving is my friend Raven's favorite holiday. Aside from the insane amount of food involved, I never really understood why. This year however, I realized that Thanksgiving is an important time, and not just because of the desserts.
Thanksgiving is where this all started. It is where everything changed. In 2007, my entire family got together outside of Elkhart, Indiana in a place called South Fork to celebrate Thanksgiving. A few days before my pending departure to Guinea, the day served also a going away party (there were posters with elephants on them that said, "Good luck in Africa, Samantha!") and a pre-mature birthday celebration (birthday cake and pumpkin pie, really what more can you ask for?)
A lot has changed since then. One year later I was in the West African capital city of Conakry running between three kitchens trying to put together a meal for a few dozen volunteers and friends. I'm not sure how but, we worked some Peace Corps magic and pulled it off. Early on in the holiday preparations we emptied out the large linen closet and instead of sheets, towels, and blankets it became filled with pies, mashed potatoes, and other assorted dishes.
Diaye, Ousmane, and Raven
Not only did we end up with a fabulous rooftop meal overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, but we managed to make a "Peace Corps Cribs: Conakry"
film. If anything, we were a resourceful group.
A year later, I couldn't say the same thing. I was unexpectedly in Old Saybrook, Conneticut sharing a large holiday meal with a family of Russian immigrants. I had just gotten back to the US; shell-shocked and confused described me best. The Rabinovich's took care of me and nursed me back to a functional state.
I would never have imagined that in 2010 I would be having a catered Thanksgiving meal at the University of Porto Business School in Portugal. This strange and happy event was incredible relaxed and comfortable as my multinational classmates went around the table and said what they were thankful. It wasn't surprising then, and it's still true now, that most of us said we were thankful for each other. I remember that night we decided to treat ourselves and three of us went out with Liz's dad for sushi. It was a holiday afterall and we felt the need to celebrate in a way that made sense to all of us.
This year, I spent Thanksgiving in Bamako with friends. I'm extremely grateful to have had multiple invitations to Thanksgiving meals as its an indication that I'm surrounded by many good and caring people. Raven, Ousmane, and Diaye in particular have been gifts for which I will be forever thankful. They've taken care of me, and I can't begin to repay them for their kindness. The three of them, plus two Americans, and a random wood craftsman, made a pretty wonderful Thanksgiving. Two chickens, three kilos of potatoes, buttery stuffing, creamed spinach, an international apple crumble, and good company. What more could you possibly ask for?