The gratitude and thankfulness of Thanksgiving are universal concepts.
This year, like all, the Abrahams have something to be thankful for. Even if the traditional seat at the head of table — the seat of a man who had brought his family from a war-torn country to the freedom and liberty America could offer — would be empty for the first time.
Since she can remember, Katie Abraham, 20, has celebrated Thanksgiving, a mix of Hungarians and Hungarian Americans crowded in her grandmother’s basement — four tables and an interchange of benches and chairs to fit the entire family.
But this Thanksgiving marks the first since Abraham’s grandfather passed away — the man who had fought in World War II, had been held and tortured as a prisoner of war in Siberia and who, along with his family, had fled Hungary following the outbreak of the 1956 revolution.
It’s a past that defines the Abraham family, an ever reminder of the gratitude they have for what life in America has allowed in contrast to the struggles her grandfather’s generation had known.
“Being thankful is a part of my family,” Abraham said, a first-generation American. “We celebrate [Thanksgiving] in America, but the whole concept behind it, being thankful and taking a day to appreciate all that you have, is a very universal idea and concept. It can transfer anywhere.”
And that it does, as Farah Mohamed’s family — of East African-Indian heritage who moved to the States when Mohamed was 3 years old — also gears up for Thanksgiving.
Like Abraham, Mohamed, 21, grew up celebrating Thanksgiving, a decision her parents, in attempt to assimilate within American society, had made given all the other parents did so too, Mohamed said.
The family begins the celebration at around 4 p.m., paying visit to a Tanzanian family friend’s home for a pre-Thanksgiving meal, before continuing on to their local mosque for Thanksgiving services and a potluck dinner.
They eat a range of East African, Indian and American dishes — mashed potatoes and potato curry; cranberry sauce and chutney; traditional turkey and masala turkey.
“It’s special because we all have our own take on what Thanksgiving is,” Mohamed said. “In every culture or every society, people need to take that time to be thankful. Thanksgiving is just a reminder of that.”
Mohamed recalled the first year attending the Tanzanian home before Thanksgiving services. The wife had placed a piece of wheat on each of the guest’s plates — a symbol of luck, growth and possibility. She had asked guests to go around, voicing what the wheat reminded them of and what they were thankful for.
“I don’t think what Thanksgiving was originally founded for is all that important anymore,” Mohamed said. “I think it’s just an excuse for us to get together with family and friends and take the time to remember that there is something larger than the 10-page paper we have due for next week.”
Thanksgiving is about embracing what you have, she added.
“For my family, culture is so much a part of all of that.”
Powered by Facebook Comments