Thanksgiving in Mexico-I was dreading this day. I consider myself a positive person and in general refuse to allow the hardships in this rather unpredictable life affect my spirit. However, on the big day of turkey, giving thanks and some good ol’ football, I would be taking an exam for my Spanish exam. It’s sad and somewhat depressing when you’re in a country that doesn’t celebrate a holiday from your culture. Yes, very depressing indeed especially when you’ve been celebrating this holiday every year since you were born. I mean, it’s Thanksgiving, I wanted to be helping mom in the kitchen and witness the vivid display of emotions and language of my father as he watched the football game. However, this Thanksgiving was a desperate time and called for…well, unique measures.
The day before Thanksgiving, a group of children came to visit our dorms and played soccer with some of the students. These children were from a local home to help children from families that were not able to take care of them financially. Their energy was addicting as they ran up and down the soccer field yelling and laughing attempting to make goals for their team. It’s a tough life for these kids, it’s a rare moment that they have the chance to feel this kind of freedom and these kids were soaking it up here in this little soccer game.
Thanksgiving Day consisted of an exam for a class, not the pleasant way to start off this holiday, but hey, you got to live with what life gives you. However, my friend Erin and I went to Casa Verde later in the day for a (free) Thanksgiving dinner. Casa Verde is a Christian ministry and home located close to the UDLA for students to enjoy, relax and learn more about God with leaders from Mexico and the USA. Every Thursday, they offer a free meal to students and this particular day featured the classic Thanksgiving food. With a plate full of food that seemed to weigh close to four pounds, I was quite thankful to have my share of carbs and other delights. However, what made it very special was that we shared the meal with a local orphanage that came to visit Casa Verde. We ate our food, listened to music, made crafts and the American students laughed how for the first time in our lives, we were celebrating Thanksgiving in warm weather.
So, how was my Thanksgiving? Well, it was somewhat bittersweet because I missed my family terribly but special because I realized my blessings in life and especially this experience in Mexico. Similar to the soccer game, I realized that my experience in Mexico has made me more aware of my freedoms in this life. It is very easy to let others influence us or if you’re a complex perfectionist like myself, just making yourself aware that you’re always safe and can always hold your head high in any situation. Learning Spanish and the Mexican culture has been a humbling, hilarious and heart-inspiring experience. With the frustrations of the language, it’s been my ticket to discovering a culture and meeting wonderful people.
Somehow being immersed with these experiences on a daily basis in a culture that is filled with color and passion awakens my desire to paint color and live with passion in my life. Realizing that your are free and do not need to live your life with dull gray and khaki like so many people in this world-you become more thankful for life when abroad.