Having been in Nepal now for about three months, it has been really easy for me to be out of the loop with things back home in the States. One example of this is that I forgot that Thanksgiving was going on today! This hasn't really bothered me because growing up, my family never really celebrated this day. But reflecting on the fact that I am outside of the US for the first time for the holidays, I am starting to appreciate the need for celebration, time off, and giving thanks.
Our Boston College abroad advisor, Father Greg Sharkey invited Lucas (other BC student in Nepal) and I over to his house for Thanksgiving dinner. It has been a yearly tradition for the BC group and a time when Fr. Greg and his Nepali assistants Chandra and Raju cook up a storm of incredibly delicious foods. Actually, Fr. Greg has been spoiling us with this kind of food every other week, but today was just little more. Upon arriving to the "party", the largely American crowd of exchange students, school staff, and other friends congregated for the night around the living room area. We all took our seats and were immediately brought a tray of appetizers including caramelized nuts, crackers topped with chicken liver pate, and other assorted munchies. The icing on the cake came when Raju brought out Fr. Greg's special homemade eggnog, a magical concoction I tried for the first time and one that I am itching to try again come Christmas time.
Sitting around the table with such great company made me bubbly and happy inside because I began to think, "when else can you get such an opportunity to be together?" This was a sentiment I remember feeling when celebrating Dashain in Raju's village and during Tihar when I did the same with my Nepali homestay family and is one that makes the holiday season so much more special to me. The opportunity to hit the pause button to slip away from the routines of our days is so necessary in today's incredibly rapid pace of modern life. When you move away from the noise and calamity of the everyday, you begin to realize the things, people, and emotions that surround you. When I feel this, I empathize more, taste foods more finely, and just live life more happy.
When the dinner started making its way to the table, there was an aura of good spirits that just filled the room along with the overwhelming smells of the dishes. We all gathered around the food and I happened to snap a photo of the following moment above. Fr. Greg, having been in the kitchen the whole night, kicked off dinner with a powerful word of thanks. We were reminded of family, friends, and loved ones back home who have a place in our hearts no matter how far we are. We were extremely fortunate to be here at this table all together for this special night. We were most importantly grateful for the opportunity to just give thanks wherever thanks may be provided. At that moment, the essence of Thanksgiving started to make sense for me—the food on the table appeared to me as more of a gift. We were all a part of this present and it was moment I will cherish forever.