Thanksgiving, as a holiday, is not celebrated in Nigeria or Germany- two countries I am mostly affiliated with. Therefore, it was one holiday I was looking forward to experiencing during my time here in the US.
Before I go ahead and talk about my first Thanksgiving experience, two things first. One, I have come to understand that Thanksgiving as a celebration is rooted in a history of colonialism and oppression of Native Americans. While the purpose of this holiday for families in the US may have changed over the years, I think it is important to have this history in mind. Secondly, although I refer to this as my first thanksgiving, I must mention that earlier during the month, the Office of Global Engagement at Drexel hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for exchange students, which was quite thoughtful and enjoyable to experience.
At the beginning of the quarter, and just a few weeks since my arrival to Philly, my roommate, Liz, had invited me for Thanksgiving at hers. I knew I wanted to have my first Thanksgiving experience while in the US, so I was glad to accept her invitation and I looked forward to the holiday.
On Thanksgiving afternoon, Liz and her dad picked me up from the house and we set off to theirs. The location was in the outskirts of Philly, so I imagine that was why we left earlier for the dinner. Aside from her family and I, another friend was going to be there as well, with his mum. When we arrived, the dinner was still being prepared so we waited in the living room where an American football match was playing on the TV. Since being in USA, I have seen one or two American football matches, but I did not exactly enjoy them. However, on this day, it was somewhat more interesting watching the match with others around. A charcuterie board was served at some point, and I took a portion and ate as I watched the Giants vs Cowboys game.
By around 4 pm, dinner was ready. All the guests and family members headed to the dining table where all the dishes were laid out. After saying grace, we began to eat. There was turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, biscuits, asparagus, mac and cheese, and drinks to go with the dinner. Some of these were dishes I had never had, so given the opportunity, I had to try them out. The turkey was satisfying and, I really loved the biscuits. Candied yams was a dish I had never even heard of (I, at least, knew the other dishes, even if I had never tasted them), and after tasting, I just kept getting more. It was definitely my favorite dish I had for dinner.
There was still some food left after we were done eating and we packed them up in to-go plates. I eventually took some of them back home with me. There was dessert after the dinner, but we all agreed to wait a while before eating. So, we headed to the living room again, and this time, another football match was being shown. Half an hour later or so, we had dessert. There was the option of cheesecake, chocolate cake and sweet potato pie; I opted for the chocolate cake and it tasted really good. After dessert, I hung around for a while until the match was over and then headed back home.
I am really glad I got to have my first Thanksgiving dinner experience. If I had not gotten an invite, I might have just stayed home to write my final papers or do some schoolwork. Thus, I am glad I was able to leave the house and have this celebration with a family – the food, the company and the vibes all added to my experience. If the opportunity presents itself whenever I am in the US again, I would surely love to attend another Thanksgiving dinner.