That international Thanksgiving we did one time

by Jason

My favorite American holiday has always been Thanksgiving. For me there is something really nice about just getting together with family to just eat, be thankful and watch American Football.

This year however, marked the fifth time in my life that I wasn’t with family on Thanksgiving. The first time I missed it was when I was studying abroad in Argentina in 2009. For the past four Thanksgivings, I have been based in Lebanon and have found different ways to commemorate the holiday.

But this past Thursday just kind of slipped up on me and I didn’t even remember it was my favorite holiday until a day or two before. With the business of work and everything else going on, I basically resigned myself to letting the day pass by uneventfully.

Then Thursday morning while at work, my Whatsapp group chat started buzzing with messages. I’d suggested to an Iranian-American friend the night before that we invite our friends to meet us for drinks in the evening in some semblance of celebration. However, as the group discussion progressed on Whatsapp, this suggestion quickly transformed into a plan to meet at a favorite restaurant that serves different styles of cuisine each day of the week.

And the menu for Thanksgiving dinner? Sri Lankan!

So, that evening, as I sat there with my Hungarian, Lebanese, French and Iranian-American friends eating incredible Sri Lankan cuisine and sipping Lebanese wine, I couldn’t help but smile. As we toasted to the American holiday, I was truly thankful for that moment.


My friend Rand posted about it on Facebook later and I’ll let her caption speak for me:

“In a global cultural economy during this post-modern age, a Hungarian, a French, an Iranian, an American and a Lebanese, gather on one table somewhere ‘not so very oriental’ in the Middle East to celebrate [American] Thanksgiving and have a Sri Lankan feast.”

It’s a few days late but this year I’m truly thankful that my life and friend circle exists outside the socially constructed ideas of nationality and identity.