Tuesday, December 4, 2012

There was pie.

This year marked my fourth Thanksgiving overseas and I've gotten fairly used to missing the normal Turkey day festivities of the States. Fortunately, it's never been my favorite holiday and missing the day doesn't particularly pull at my heart strings. While I love spending Christmas with my family, Thanksgiving has always been that awkward holiday where one side of the family is visiting in-laws, the other is on the other side of the country, and I am left having to make choices between members of my nuclear family. I look forward to someday reclaiming the holiday with my own family, but for now I find pleasure in sharing the customs and oddities of the day with foreigners.

I spent the week of Thanksgiving giving mini descriptions of the holiday to family, friends and students in Morocco. In the shortened version, I focused on the amount of food people eat, spending time with family and of course saying 'thanks to God' for all the good things we have in life. After creating a two part lesson plan, split into the history of Thanksgiving and modern day celebrations, I was able to discuss the holiday at length with some of my Bac students. I showed students pictures of the Macy's Parade, volunteering at a soup kitchen and the all important turkey. After delving into these important subjects, I digressed into fun cultural points such as the best way to eat pumpkin pie and why people sleep outside Walmart on Black Friday.

In general my students reacted with interest to the holiday, even getting into their roles as "Pilgrims" or "Native Americans" in creative writing. One student noted they learned that the Pilgrims eventually killed Native Americans and wanted to know what exactly we were celebrating. Isn't history fun?! Another student made the remark that Moroccans don't need a specific holiday to 'thank God' because they give thanks to God everyday. I was surprised by the number of older Moroccans who were familiar with the idea of Black Friday and wanted to know if this insanity actually occurred. Let's just say the 'crazy' hand gesture was used frequently in these conversations.

As for my American celebration, I was invited to a nearby volunteer's home for a weekend of food, company and solid relaxation. Our amazing cooks had boxed stuffing, cranberry, canned pumpkin and marshmallows sent from the States, making it a fantastically American meal. We substituted chicken for turkey since they are hard to come by in the south and the vegetarians feasted on a veggie quiche. Complete with green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and two types of pie, the meal was a success.

Palmerie photo op

The view from above, drool!

Hello lovely

Susan and I stopping for sustenance on the way up
Before and after meals, a few of the volunteers explored the town's palmerie and hiked the nearby mountains. Both of these activities are available to me on a daily basis in Tazarine, however, it's not always the best idea to do solo adventures in the rocky desert, regardless of the country. Fresh air, good company and the beautiful terrain relaxed and refocused me for the upcoming holiday season. This year, I am thankful for real pumpkin pie, watching the Muppets and desert mountain hikes with engaging volunteers. Ahamdullilah!

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