Thanksgiving, After the Fact

So–I meant to post this actually on Thanksgiving–oops. I missed the deadline!

But I did read a really neat piece in the New York Times today and wanted to share it with y’all.

It is one of those holiday features that is guaranteed to be heartwarming, yet this one managed to slip past my usual cynical facade and touch me. It tells how the children of recent immigrants bring the traditions of Thanksgiving to their families, and how folks from all different cultures are embracing the holiday and celebrating it wholeheartedly once they settle in the United States.

It made me think of some of my friends from Pakistan, and how excited they were to have thier first Thanksgiving feast and cook their first turkey. I remember telling them that Thanksgiving brings out the best in American cooking, and listening to them tell me how they were going to cook thier bird, and comparing it with how I planned to cook mine. They told me about how they made their first cranberry sauce, but they thought of it more as a chutney–and of how they thought it would be good to make pumpkin samosas instead of pie. (I said they could try making pumpkin kulfi–ice cream, too–and that thought caused many oohs and ahs and thoughtful musings on how to go about such a plan.)

I am reminded at Thanksgiving that we are all immigrants here–every American, unless they are completely of Native blood, is descended from immigrants. Our ancestors were once strangers, unable to speak the language, dressed differently than everyone else, and perhaps reviled or mistrusted by the Americans among whom they settled. All of us have roots that go back to different places, and every family carries a shadow of the customs, traditions and practices of their ancestral home.

But now–we are Americans–and Thanksgiving is a time to remember that we are not so different than our newest citizens than some might want to think. We should welcome everyone to our shores and our tables with open arms; we should embrace with joy the strength that having a diverse population made of myriad thriving cultures brings.

In the twenty-first century, Americans truly are, “from many, one.”

I think that is greatest lesson of Thanksgiving–that we are all one people, no matter where we are from, or what language we speak, or what beliefs we hold dear.

And though I speak of Americans–for Thanksgiving is an American holiday–the truth of that lesson does not only hold true for citizens of the United States.

The truth that I hold most sacred and dear, on Thanksgiving, and every other day is simply this–we are all one people.

I only wish I could build a table big enough for us all.

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