With Thanksgiving Day upon us, the holiday season has officially begun in the United States. Winter holidays are a common occurrence in many parts of the world but Thanksgiving is a uniquely American institution. Like most celebrations family and food are at its core. Traditions have carried over from one generation to the next, keeping some staple foods, while tossing out others, and since Thanksgiving is purely patriotic with no direct religious connotations, it has been easily adopted by immigrants over the years. Not only that, but the concept of the first Thanksgiving itself where, the Pilgrims settlement in the New World was facilitated by the kindness of Native-Americans, is an extremely relatable parable for all immigrants who have arrived in the US since.
I was born in South Africa and I’ve lived in many countries around the world with my husband and two (now teen) girls. We’ve been in America for many years and moved around several different states. Adopting American traditions has been fun and exciting, costumes and candy on Halloween, fireworks in July, hot dogs in the summer and turkey in the colder months. At the heart of it all is quality time with my family and providing my girls with memories to take into their adult lives.
This year feels different however, because, while the girls and I are home, my husband is working abroad in Morocco and isn’t able to join us for Thanksgiving fun and feasting. The work of engendering familial closeness and memory-making falls on my shoulders and fills me with a sense of longing for my husband, wishing he was here by my side, perfecting our quartet. In the spirit of the holiday however, today I am entirely focused on those things for which I’m very grateful, my girls of course, who are making an adventurous-sounding turkey pasta bake, my husband with whom I share love, passion and partnership, with a strength that isn’t diminished over time or long distances and my career, which has brought me so much joy and allowed me to meet incredible people like fellow authors and loyal fans.
So with that in mind, I’d like to let everyone in the US and all over the world today know that if you need a “place” to be this Thanksgiving, my heart is open to you. I’m creating a space for anyone who feels lonely and needs that one thing that Thanksgiving is all about – coming together and welcoming others to the table, sharing our commonality, whether it’s family, food, tradition, friendship, love, or simply our humanity, the need to give and receive, and know there’s always someone there when we need them.