Taking Away the Turkey

IMG_7682On a particular November evening years ago, I threw on a skirt and sandals and proceeded to haul a platter of roasted potatoes and sautéed veggies across town. In a span of 30 minutes, I walked two blocks, took the bus, and walked another four blocks on the busy Avenida del Libertador while the smell of cooked food followed me. Curiously, strangers stared and an occasional dog would perk up at the prospect of a treat. (None to be had, sadly.) Carrying this food across town, I remember the radiating warmth of the dishes in my hand and how it seemed to match the air outside; yes, I was all the while sweating while registering this, and no, it wasn’t global warming to blame – just the fact that I was then a resident of the Southern Hemisphere.

Hands and brow thoroughly warmed, I finally reached the house of my friend’s host family, and I greeted some friends and one incredibly fluffy dog named Alma. Upon entering the house, I placed the dishes on the main table, and it was already overflowing with other homemade (or not-so-homemade) dishes for a potluck Thanksgiving, or El Día de Acción de Gracias. Think sweet potato pie, baked ziti, salads, membrillo empanadas, roast chicken, and a number of other dishes. Missing in action? Turkey, the trimmings, and cranberry sauce as, to be honest, we had no idea where to source such ingredients in the city of Buenos Aires. All of us were living, studying, and doing independent research there for a semester in South America, and those who weren’t in other parts of Argentina, Brazil, or Paraguay got together for one evening.

After two others arrived and the smell of warm, delicious food was in full force (cue one antsy dog behind a gate), the seven of us gathered around the table, along with our friend’s host mom, and we said grace.

There, in that small pocket of one large international city and some 5,000 miles away from where I spent my last Turkey Day, I had one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals to date.

The evening was fueled by new discoveries and stories from one another, too much dessert as the city helped me develop a sweet tooth, and perhaps too much wine, but I felt at home – away from the usual traditions, relatives I’d see once a year, and a then-significant other I cared deeply about. That year was about friendship, about facing personal and travel obstacles we had never anticipated, and about simply being grateful for the kinds of personal and collective experiences we’d made in our journey so far.

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In Thanksgivings past, I can think of moments where my family and friends stressed about the turkey not being done in time, missing some ingredients, and drama about the table placement. (Thankfully, it’ll be a while until I experience having to seat two sets of in-laws at a Thanksgiving dinner I throw.) With all this stress, however, we sometimes forget the main sentiment of the holiday, or gratitude. As cheesy as it may sound, every Thanksgiving, I’m given an opportunity to acknowledge the many aspects of my life I’m grateful for yet don’t necessarily acknowledge every day.

I’m thankful to have a job and for the opportunities my family has afforded me. I’m grateful to have someone special in my life that I see on a regular basis and makes me feel loved. I’m thankful for having my basic needs met and for even having the freedom to vocalize these thoughts so publicly.

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving and of Everyday Ambassador-gratitude, I challenge you to take a moment to reflect on whatever it is you are thankful every time you feel stressed or have a silent moment to yourself. Adding onto this vision of gratitude are some activities you can do as well by yourself, as a family, or as a community:

  • Read last year’s Thanksgiving-themed Bucket List piece on the global food system.
  • Take the Gratitude Challenge. For five days, list three things you’re grateful for, and nominate three people each day to partake. The Challenge is part of our greater #YearofConnection Challenge Checklist, and if you do participate in it, send us a reflection! Details here.
  • Watch Laura Trice’s TED talk, “Remember to say thank you“.
  • Check out our partner organization, Acts of Gratitude. Acts of Gratitude is an non-governmental organization based in Rwanda in order to engage local Rwandan youth in giving back to those in need.
  • Give back with #HashtagLunchbag in various locations around the world. According to their website, “#HashtagLunchbag is a humanity service movement dedicated to empowering and inspiring humanity to reap the benefits of giving through the use of social media. We create and use bagged lunches, complete with love messages, as a vessel to spread this love and share our experiences to inspire others.”

“Bucket List” is a weekly series curated by Everyday Ambassador Brand Strategist Audrey del Rosario. Every Saturday, we will feature events, conferences, and happenings that spark conversation and ignite your inner activist. To stay current with our latest posts, follow #bucketlist or #EAinspired on our other platforms, and check back regularly for updates.

Image Credit: Morgan Bartz



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