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Our holiday is like the United Nations at noon

By Staff
Leada Gore, Editor
"Have any big plans for Thanksgiving?" someone asked me recently.
I just smiled.
"We're just having family over to the house," I replied. "And a couple of friends. Maybe a straggler or two. Oh, and one foreign exchange student who doesn't speak much English. Just your average family holiday."
The scary part of these above sentence is the word "average." For years, our family holidays have included a menagerie of people. Some are relatives, some are not. Some are familiar faces, others are not. Some looked intrigued by the chaos that is our family holiday, some break and run at the first opportunity.
It all started several years ago when my cousin was going through medical school at UAB. Many international students were among her classmates and most didn't have any place to go for the holidays. She would invite them to my grandmother's house and our family Thanksgiving quickly become akin to lunchtime at the United Nations.
My grandmother owns a catering business so cooking for a crowd wasn't a problem. We were all amazed, however, when a group of Nigerian students joined us one Thanksgiving and the four of them managed to consume an entire turkey in record speed.
In addition to the foreign students, we also had some friends of my mother's, various boyfriends or girlfriends, some Sunday School classmates who didn't feel like cooking, neighbors and even co-workers.
The end result would be 30 or so people, though it was rare all were eating at the same time.
Basically, you'd just wait for one shift of visitors to finish eating and then you would grab a plate and wedge your way in at the table.
Because we had so many visitors, the family itself was usually on its best behavior. There were no fights over football or the remote control or comments about someone's lack of a job, husband or sanity. I figure this is why we kept this system in place for so many years. It's hard to get your feelings hurt when you're fighting four Nigerians for the last scrap of turkey.
This year, Thanksgiving is at our house. We think it will be mostly family this year, though there is a chance for a co-worker to join us and my brother informed me Saturday he has invited a young Indian man who is working in our country.
"He has no idea about Thanksgiving," he said. "He doesn't eat meat but I told him I didn't think it would be a problem. Oh, and he doesn't really speak a lot of English."
That shouldn't be a problem. As long as we can teach him to understand "pass the peas" we should all get along fine.

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