Growing up, my family always did American holidays differently. For example, for the Fourth of July, we would have a barbecue of Middle Eastern foods. On top of that, we wouldn’t really care that much about the fireworks. For Labor or Memorial day, my parents didn’t understand the significance so we were usually home. Being a child of immigrants means having your two cultures put together in the most random ways.
For Thanksgiving, we usually have turkey but not in the way that most people have it. We eat our turkey with traditional Middle Eastern rice. My parents also never really learned how to make any of the other traditional Thanksgiving foods so it was up to me this to make everything else.
Before COVID, we would have these huge parties with like 50 people for Thanksgiving and the women would just spend the whole time blasting loud Iranian music for dancing. It was a celebration. The men would go into some other room to play card games. We, the kids, would just go to some corner and just talk. Before technology, we would all play games and laugh but now that there are Iphones, we don’t really communicate.
When all the kids were younger, we had to always explain to the adults what Thanksgiving was or how a Turkey is a must at Thanksgiving. Having to explain to the adults all the Dos and Don’ts of certain holidays like Thanksgiving used to be very annoying. I would explain to my grandma that we NEED a turkey on the table and she would just keep asking why. Not only that, explaining to them that mashed potatoes and stuffing are another Thanksgiving tradition.
On the other hand, having to explain to my fellow classmates that on Thanksgiving, I have rice with my turkey was hard. The teacher would call on me and ask me what I ate during Thanksgiving and I would say rice. Kids would have a field day because they didn’t understand that different cultures did things differently. My classmates had never had basmati white rice with their turkey, which was something that I couldn’t understand.
When I got older I realized that those kids who bullied me for my Thanksgiving traditions were so used to their point of view that they didn’t know any other point of view existed. I stopped being mad at them because I understand where they came from. From my point of view, their Thanksgiving seemed weird. I mean how could people not have rice with their turkey. How could the adults not blast music and dance?
Overall, any holiday with immigrants is interesting but specifically Thanksgiving. Even though my family and their friends could be annoying and a little behind on American traditions, I don’t mind it one bit! It makes for more interesting stories.