By Anchel Krishna @Anchelk
Anchel talks about how this traditional North American holiday blends in with her South Asian upbringing.
As we were growing up, my Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t filled with table full of turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pies. In Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. We usually have a few family birthdays over the Thanksgiving weekend and the holiday often falls in the nine night/10 day period of the Hindu festival of Navratri, which means no turkey on the table.
I grew up a vegetarian so no one really knew how to cook a turkey. As we got older we started to eat meat and when Thanksgiving didn’t happen during Navratri I would often cook a full traditional thanksgiving meal for our whole family – our family, my dad’s three brothers and their families (10 cousins).
My parents would also whip us a batch of channa or something similar for the vegetarians in the room. It was a lot of fun. Over the years our traditions have changed slightly. I still often try and host a full Thanksgiving meal, we just often hold our own version of the holiday a few weeks later, after Navratri is over. Our meal includes Turkey and all the side dishes and now my sisters are usually the ones who cook a veggie lasagne to cater to the vegetarians in the crowd.
I’ve written a lot about our family and how we love celebrating together, so why would we pass up an opportunity to get together and enjoy a lot of food?
In some ways, I think that is what being a first generation Indo-Canadian is all about. Fusion. Mixing our traditions with Canadian traditions and figuring out what works best for our family.
The other thing I love about Thanksgiving is that it is all about feeling and expressing gratitude for what we have. Since having a child I feel so much more thankful for all that we have. I know that some people look at our life and think it is hard because Syona has special needs. But the truth is that life is a lot more fun. There are many more moments of joy. And I’m a lot better at not taking things for granted.
My type-A need to have everything figured out and predict the outcomes of every action has started to disappear. I now have an unwavering belief that things are as they should be and that my child is who she is meant to be. I also know that by living the values we want to instil in her will is the only way to raise her.
Gratitude is a big part of this. We have a lot to be thankful for: a wonderful family, living in a country where we are free to be who we are and thrive, food to fill our bellies and the smiles and laughter that are part of every day.
Syona doesn’t quite understand the concept of Thanksgiving but she does get the idea of gratitude (thank you was one of the first two-word combinations she was able to say). And a holiday celebrating gratitude and family? I think that’s something she can easily get behind.
It’s always easy to look around at your life and see what’s missing. But isn’t it more important to look around and see how good things are? I think so, and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about in our home this year. Unfortunately the turkey will have to wait an extra week!
What are you thankful for?
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