By Kevin Stoda
I have often celebrated an American Thanksgiving outside the USA. This is because I have lived outside of the USA most of my adult life--as I have been busy teaching in East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe since 1986. However, today is the first time I have celebrated an American Thanksgiving in Oman with my own wife and daughter abroad. (NOTE: I have not yet been married for 4 years and my wife had had visa issues entering the countries I had been living in or working in during prior years.) So, when it came time to share with others today my reason for thanks this year, it included the thanks to the Lord that my family can share an American Thanksgiving meal and celebration for the first time in our lives.
Today was also the most multicultural-celebrative Thanksgiving-experience that I have ever had. The pastor of our local church and his wife, who are from the USA and India, invited us--and more than a dozen others--to their home to gather together in an American-style Thanksgiving dinner. (Naturally, each of the guests were invited to make & bring part of the feast.)
Although there were less than 20 of us gathered together for the meal, which included turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and other typical fare, we represented 8 different nations on 3 continents. Those present to share their individual thanks before prayer were representatives from Canada, USA, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Ghana, Lebanon, and Uganda. Some had children now living in third countries, such as Germany, or who had children who had been born in third countries, like Jordan. Another had had parents born in Holland. Still others present had studied in England and still other lands.
In short, we were emigrated here in the Middle East from all kinds of different lands. Nonetheless, as Christians we took time after the meal to reflect on the original Thanksgiving tale from the early 1620s which reveals that (religious and freedom-seeking) emigres and indigenous peoples initiated the original American Thanksgiving some 4 centuries ago. At that time, Thanksgiving meant a time of celebration between peoples of two continents. Now, today, it means for me and my household a celebration of peoples from many more continents and lands.