A Thanksgiving miles apart, close at heart

Amidst a buzzing household stands a wooden table meticulously embellished with centerpiece candles, sterling silverware and most notably, a Thanksgiving turkey. 

Every year families reunite, coming together within the walls of one home to celebrate the day of Thanksgiving. For me, however, the break of dawn on Thanksgiving mirrors the waking up of any other ordinary day.

I find myself scrolling through TikTok, eating lunch in front of the television’s light and enjoying lengthy FaceTime calls with my friends. 

Every year, in an attempt to capture the familial aspects coming with Thanksgiving, I undertake the preparation of cheesy, vegetarian lasagna along with an artfully plattered red velvet cake for my family. It helps me feel connected to my family, taking on an activity that allows me to show thankfulness to my loved ones. 

Despite this, these attempts fall short. The rhythmic noises of chaotic culinary activities taking place in the kitchen, voices of fathers discussing politics or exuberant cousins traversing rooms fail to echo through my walls. 

In the United States, Thanksgiving consists of various American traditions. Family members embark on journeys to meet, friends eagerly settle onto couches to partake in the spectacles of American football and the aromatic waft of grandmothers’ lovingly baked pumpkin pies fill the air. 

These common Thanksgiving traditions have forever eluded my grasp, remaining something that forever will stand in front of me, yet out of reach. With this desire arose several questions. How do I get my family all in one place at one time? Would the thrills of American football resonate with my family? Even in a hypothetical Thanksgiving celebration with my family, would it feel like the ones I’ve seen in the movies?

Separated by a vast distance of 8,784 miles, or two 10-hour flights, the majority of my family resides in Mumbai, India. Because of this geographical barrier, it becomes difficult to regularly meet my family. 

Every three years, as soon as I catch a glimpse of my grandparents waiting for me outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, I immediately revel in a warm embrace. I make up for all the missed Thanksgivings where I wasn’t able to spend time with them. 

During Thanksgiving, I imagine the simplicities of being a conventional American family. Living a mere 30 minutes away from the embrace of my loved ones, being able to seamlessly participate in the festivities of every holiday, or simply engage in conversations at any given moment.  

While my affection for my Indian culture remains, these Americanized traditions have always allured me. For me, Thanksgiving serves as an annual reminder of the barriers that stand between my family and I.  

Beyond just the consumption of mashed potatoes around the dinner table or watching Thanksgiving parades on television, Thanksgiving is a day that has a jubilant spirit roaming through people’s homes.

This Thanksgiving, allow yourself to be immersed into the love that embraces you and your loved ones. Whether it’s through an abundant Thanksgiving feast or the simplicity of sending a heartwarming text message to your loved ones, let this day be a source of expression for the gratitude you hold.   

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