Not so much here in Costa Rica, but that’s OK. It’s still good to be thankful. Because of the holiday, I’m sure that basically every blogger in the U.S. is putting up a post about the things that he or she is thankful for. I am certainly thankful for many, many things like my family, my friends, my health, my life in general, and all the blessings I’ve been given. But the more I think about it, I’m actually thankful that Thanksgiving even exists.
While living in another country as an ex-pat, you have to sometimes defend your home country, and of course the U.S. is no exception to that rule of thumb. In fact, many people have their well-formed concepts about Americans, and despite the fact that they may never have visited the U.S., they’re still happy to tell you what you and your compatriots are really like.
One such concept that you’ll come across quite often is that America is a greedy, imperialistic nation that doesn’t give a crap about the rest of the world… basically, that it’s the enormous gorilla –be it 500 pounds or approximately 250 kilos– that feels it can sit wherever it wants in the world. Another idea that I’ve come across, especially in Costa Rica, is that Americans don’t care about their families. I would particularly dispute this point anyhow, as I think they’re often confusing quality with quantity in terms of family size, but that’s a point for another post. Finally, there’s the idea that Americans are interested only in crass convenience, fast money, and everything artificial and gaudy.
Thanksgiving blows all these concepts out of the water.
Think about it. For most families, it’s either the biggest or second-biggest holiday of the year. Almost everyone celebrates or recognizes it in some way, and unlike some holidays, it’s even non-denominational; I’ve been invited to a Muslim friend’s house for Thanksgiving, and they served turkey alongside Pakistani dishes.
It’s also non-commercial, generally. I’m sure that some people spend tons of money on food –and I do certainly concede that point– but the point is not about buying the biggest or newest gifts, or impressing your loved one with the most romantic gesture known to man, or waiting in lines in the snow to be the first to buy a rare shiny new chocolate-covered Tickle Me Grover doll for Junior. Instead, Thanksgiving is simply about getting together with your loved ones, spending time together, eating a delicious meal, and being thankful. Holy mackerel, can you believe we actually pulled this holiday off as a nation?! And it’s so awesome!
Unfortunately, this holiday isn’t celebrated in Costa Rica. My students who, by nature of being my students, are learning English from an educational center associated with the U.S.A., didn’t actually know anything about Thanksgiving. That’s too bad, but we’re going to try to remedy that. At work tomorrow, we’re going to have the students present about different aspects of Thanksgiving (since it’s an English-learning school), as well as bring food to share. It may not turn out to be a roast turkey with all the trimmings, but it’ll still hopefully reflect what I would consider the best and most traditionally and excellently American holiday.
And to everyone back in the States, I’m thankful that you’re reading my blog.
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Errand-Running Monkey at Sitzblog
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