Giving Thanks

by

Although the Thanksgiving holiday is problematic, I appreciate having a day to step back and reflect on all of the things I’m grateful for. Since moving to Switzerland, we haven’t had a “proper” Thanksgiving with family and a full turkey. Our first year, we did the best we could with what we could find. Andrew made turkey schnitzel, and I made all of the sides and desserts. Last year we were in Zurich, where Andrew had an event. That made this year particularly special.

Andrew has been developing systems for performance, so he works with theatre people and dancers. As a former dancer and theatre person, it’s a little strange to be on the outside of these shows — not to go to auditions and rehearsals — but they’re still my people. This year, someone that he has been working with invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.

She’s American. Her husband is French. The show’s director (an American living in England who happens to be a fellow Wellesley alumna), the playwright, and the playwright’s wife (also a theatre director) flew in from England. Our hosts and another couple who were there are scientists. Even though it isn’t a biological family, it’s a close knit group that’s relaxed around each other and who laugh and tease and talk about anything. We also ranged across generations from our almost 9 month old to the playwright & his wife who have full grown children and a couple of grandchildren, which added to the family feel.

Dinner began with a round of Kir Royale, made with amazing crème de cassis from Burgundy, France, and then we had the full turkey, all of the sides, and a couple of pies. It was lovely, and even the baby got to have some turkey and mashed potatoes along with the grown ups.

It’s been a crazy year, and while there’s a lot to be thankful for, I’m particularly grateful for:

— friends, old and new, near and far

— my happy, healthy, active, and curious little boy

— having this opportunity to live abroad

— having health care

— my online communities

— my in-person mums’ group

— simple and free technologies like Skype & Google Hangouts that let me easily and regularly connect with family and friends back home

— support from close & extended family

It’s a complicated time to be an American with so much difficult news from Ferguson to UVA. There’s a constant deluge of stories revealing racism, sexism, and general inhumanity. I’ve been thinking a lot about privilege and having the ability to tune out for a few hours, or even a few days, to recenter and recuperate. I’m not sure what there is to do but continue to listen, signal boost, and attempt to highlight underprivileged voices. I hope we can find ways to see and understand our common humanity and to empathize with one another. In the meantime, I am constantly and immensely grateful for my various communities and the care we take of each other.

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© 2016 Anindita Basu Sempere. 
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