This year I decided to take it upon myself to host a Thanksgiving celebration for myself and nine of my closest friends here at St Andrews. All of these friends hailed from places outside the United States: Australia, Denmark, England, and Scotland. Thus, it was for many of them their very first American-style Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time that celebrates togetherness, yet being so far from home can at times be quite isolating. It meant so much to me that these special people chose to take part in this tradition, as it really made me feel more at home.
With the table decked in maroon and white we began the feast. As I am my father’s daughter, I bravely elected to cook for ten people mostly on my own.
To say this was an ambitious task is an understatement. There was much stress involved in trying to find what to serve as a main (turkeys needed to be preordered and wild duck is currently scarce), trying to time everything just right for serving (the squash ended up cold), and just trying to not fall asleep on my feet! But was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
Being away from home has really given me some new perspective on Thanksgiving as a whole. As children, most of us believe Thanksgiving is just a time for eating an unruly amount of food or dodging awkward dinner conversations. However, I find that the more time I spend asserting my independence, the more I look back towards home and those I really rely upon. Before coming to St Andrews I was eager to “escape” my hometown, my “weird” parents, and other such inanities. Now I think just the opposite. For many young adults, going away to university does add a new dimension to life: learning to be independent. Yet adding the facet of living abroad to this already daunting change has really opened my eyes to what is important in life. I now cannot wait to return home for every holiday. I speak to my parents at least once everyday, and I find myself turning more and more into my mother.
What I am most thankful for this year is the fact that I not only get to branch out on my own in a foreign country, navigating both adulthood and Europe, but also that my home is waiting for me to return whenever I need to. My parents are the most supportive, selfless, and loving people I have ever encountered in my life. If one day I am but half as generous and kind as they are, I will think that my life amounted to a great success. I think perhaps my unwavering belief in the goodness of others comes from speaking with and observing my parents; any time the rudeness or egocentrism of others makes me sad, my parents are there to restore my faith in others. Though I wax poetic, I still feel as though words are inadequate to describe such wonderful people.
To extend this final note of reflection, this year I am also thankful for people in general: for the elderly couple strolling hand in hand, for people with funny laughs, for giving people, for mothers, for people who struggle to contain their joy for even the simplest things, and for people who inspire greatness others. All of these interesting and unique souls have such wonderful stories to tell, and I only wish I could hear them all. I believe that people do have goodness about them, which can manifest itself in different ways, whether it be simple gestures, the way they laugh, or how they pay attention to the world around them. People are truly remarkable beings.
Originally written 30 November 2013