This post sends my sincerest Thanksgiving greetings to my friends and family, wherever they may be.
This year marks my first ever Thanksgiving away from my traditional Waggoner family Thanksgiving/ reunion in Wood County, OH. İ took the opportunity this week to teach my classes about the history and traditions of the holiday, which was illuminating for me as well. Did you know, for example, that the name for turkey (the bird) actually comes from the country in which İ currently reside?
Below are a list of amusing and touching moments that have made this Thanksgiving unique:
- In all of my classes I had my students share things for which they are thankful. Two responses stand out. From a student with whom I have an ongoıng joke about the rapper Eminem: “Teacher, I am thankful for Atatürk, God, and Marshall.” The other, which was expressed by a number of students: “Her şey, Teacher, I am thankful for everything in my life.” Amen to that!
- My fellow K-towners and I hosted the best approximation of a traditional Thanksgiving meal as we could manage (perhaps ironically, sans turkey) for our university colleagues on Wednesday. Most amusing of our necessary substitutions was a bowl of shelled pomegranate in lieu of cranberry sauce. A great night of bonding and cultural exchange, and not a bad meal to boot! (P.S. Green bean casserole from scratch is more work than it seems!)
- Some students were especially aware that being away from my family this week was difficult, and their thoughtfulness (gifts of candy bars and even a dinner invitation) made me feel as though İ really do have a home away from home here in K-Town. A group of 6 incredibly sweet ladies in one of my beginner level classes brought me a remarkable gift that almost brought me to tears: 7 glass elephant figurines with the Turkish “evil eye” attached (symbols of luck and protection in Turkish culture) as an expression of their gratitude. Each of the elephants represented one of them, and the smallest of them, they explained, was me!
- “Thanksgivukah” was paid special tribute on Thursday when I followed my dad’s tradition of frying leftover mashed potatoes into pancakes 🙂
- Thanksgiving day I had what was most probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. A relative of my roommate recently returned from hajj (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina) and she shared with me a date from Mecca, and (miraculous) water from the ZamZam well!!
This list is just a small sampling of the many ways I’m blessed here in Turkey. I don’t think I’m taking much for granted here; I think know how lucky I am to have my health, a job, an affordable apartment (complete with an amazing and thoughtful roommate), a world-class education, plenty of food, and the most loving and supportive friends and family a girl could ask for. As some may say here in Turkey, “Hamdullilah!”
Sending all of my love along with cries of “Affiyet Olsun” (literally, may there be appetite) to those celebrating.