A Thanksgiving

Soft sheets. Climate controlled room. An actual shower. Something nice.

Hospitality embassy style is Doritos when you haven’t seen them since May.

The cook prepared me breakfast, and then we went to the store, and she bought me the supplies I needed for my award-winning chocolate chip pie. But no chocolate chips… much better, actually. A dark bakers chocolate bar that I chipped to pieces myself. Prepared in a pie crust handmade by the Kenyan man who served as their cook, from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. (Also, he made the best pecan pie I’ve ever tasted. And that is not biased. It was that good.)

Jessica was staying next door. A brilliant twist of fate that allowed me to spend time with my friend who was stationed halfway across the country.

We ate. And ate. And ate.

Then we went to thanksgiving dinner, over at some other embassy house, where people were staying because of the elections in DRC, and so the table was full, the house was packed. Joyous libations poured and magnificent dinners prepared.

What a difference. Not of Thanksgiving. That I was used to. I don’t remember if there was turkey, all I can remember was the pies, and roasted peppers, and amazing coffee.

Later that night, I called my grandparents home from the embassy house, he let me use the landline because he had some deal or plan or something. I called their number, memorized since I was seven. “Duh-duh-date duh-duh-duh-dee, Won’t Grandmomma answer me?”

And they all were there, the whole family that I usually joined together with. Except this time, GG wasn’t there… she had died earlier in the month. I couldn’t come home for the funeral.

And then what the difference. I was in a warmly lit house, with so many people like me, talking of hassles and struggles and difficulties of the traffic. But they weren’t like me. They were living in houses nicer than I will ever live in. They were living in houses so nice, but only two or three miles from the largest slum in Africa.

And my house had four rooms. Four bare light bulbs. A single electrical socket. And as much as I was so thankful for their hospitality, and for the friends and companionship of those like me, it was not quite…

Not quite right.

These families, their children will be able to say they lived in Kenya, but their experience is nothing like mine. They were still able to drive places, go to the shopping centers like the Sarit Centre, see movies at the megaplex, and shop at the supermarket, Nakumatt.

The words are different but the experience is not much different than America. It was as if I got to go to a little America and have that vacation, but the experience still was one placed in Africa, even if it didn’t feel like it.

Families change. Circumstances change. And I am thankful, but sometimes…

Sometimes those who aren’t see deeper than I want them to.

What do we have to be thankful for? What do we yearn for? And how can we help others reach their yearnings? When will we all be able to say:

I’m Thankful.

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