A Thanksgiving with foreign flair

?Can you find a unifying language that cuts across age and income and culture? ?Yes, and the language would appear to be food.? ?Pam Warhurst

The perfect American celebration, Thanksgiving. A holiday without calories. Did you do your part?

As our family tree naturally expands and branches out, settling us in different places at the holidays, we still manage to usher in Thanksgiving with a proper spread of food and drink.

The multiple locales are not a bad thing because as the years go by, regardless of miles, it seems we all get a little bit closer.

Maybe it?s the unexpected and slightly overwhelming pride an aunt feels watching her nieces and nephews build grown-up lives of their own, the new crop of babies that keep coming or just the gift of a less stressful holiday season. (Yes, it appears they do exist. I can vouch for that.)

I had never had a bacon cheeseburger and peppermint ice cream for Thanksgiving Day lunch. And I had never celebrated the most historically American holiday with two people from Kyrgyzstan.

Until 2012.

Because of our expanding tree, we generally settle for one big holiday per year where the majority of us are in one spot. It?s not Thanksgiving. So, the ?stragglers,? as I?ve aptly named those of us without specific plans for whatever reason on that Thursday, decided to let somebody else cook and clean up. The plan was a steak house for the four of us. But for some reason, a lot of restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving, putting us in a booth at Braum?s.

But the turkey dinner would come.

A few years ago my personal geographical map didn?t include the Kyrgyz Republic. To be perfectly honest, it barely included Asia. Geography is not my thing. Sadly, I?m small town in that way, not because of lack of interest, simply because I am by nature and nurture, more familiar with local maps. Something I would like to change.

But this weekend, thanks to a sister?s youngest daughter, our family celebrated the most historically American holiday with two people from Kyrgyzstan. Her in-laws. (Just her in-laws, not her husband. America isn?t the only country with too much red tape to cut through.)

It?s awkward to try to communicate with a language barrier. But they were gracious and my niece is becoming impressively bilingual, so the smiles said what the interpreter didn?t.

Their society honors the family structure, placing the matriarch of our family, my mother, at a high status. As it should be.

In her address to our group, my niece?s mother-in-law gave her thanks for the grandmother?s love. And her broken English clearly showed their appreciation (and surprise) at the size of our family and their love for their new daughter-in-law.

After all the political ?fun? of the past several months, it seemed timely that the world got a little bit smaller for me in the matter of a couple of hours.

Admittedly, it takes some level of politics to keep both this place and that up and running (hence the red tape for international travel), but thank God for times like this when we are all just people. American, English, Kyrgyz, Russian. Just people. Coming together over a ridiculous potluck in direct violation of our First Lady?s caloric intake guidelines.

We did our part.

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