It’s hard to imagine that for the last thirty something years I haven’t experienced an American Thanksgiving until now. I was in in Mendoza at the time and up until now I hadn’t met many Americans in South America so when Miles asked me if I wanted to join himself along with Hannah and Haley, I jumped at the chance to make some new friends.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t know much about Thanksgiving and also, probably the other international travellers who also participated in the afternoon festivities. Browsing through Wikipedia there are many reports on the origins, but how it came about doesn’t really matter too much to us international travellers. I’m guessing that about now, deep down we were all craving some form of family vibe after long term travel away from friends and family. So for that one moment in time in Mendoza, we were all one happy family.
It was a pretty crazy morning and afternoon of shopping and food preparation. I don’t think anybody had ever catered for this many people before with fourteen mouths to feed all up. However, everybody pitched in one way or another whether it be financially or with the food preparation, cooking or pouring drinks. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on this trip cooking for myself or one or two others but it was a great feeling having so many people involved, having a laugh and enjoying a few wines. We were in Mendoza after all. It felt like nothing was too difficult and everything just fell into place.
While we were tucking into the late lunch, we all took turns in sharing with the group what we were thankful for. Besides saying grace as a kid, I don’t think I’ve been in many situations where you’re open to other people about what you want to thank the universe for. The first thing that came to mind for me was what I had previously shared on the blog and those sentiments still still run true. I’m thankful for a life in Australia, and despite our current government, I still think is the greatest country in the world. I’m thankful for access to affordable education and a good career that has given me the opportunities to do what I’m currently doing – travel.
I probably don’t give my parents enough credit but I do owe a lot to them. Whilst growing up, there weren’t too many complications that I was aware of, they taught us to shun possessions, show generosity and be hospitable to others. I have to confess, whilst living away from home and pursuing a career, I probably strayed away from those values a bit but I feel that in recent times, I’ve gone back to embracing the uncomplicated lifestyle more as each day passes.
When my parents first came to Australia, they decided not to resettle into a Vietnamese community in Sydney. Instead they moved to 2 hours north to Newcastle where we were raised as first generation migrants, living, working and growing up in a mostly anglo community. In a way, it’s acted as a double edged sword: One one hand, we’ve had so many opportunities in a new country and haven’t been tied back by tradition. On the other hand, over time I had become detached from my roots and lacked the curiosity of the family history and Vietnamese culture.
I’ll be the first to admit that I may not be winning any son of the year awards any soon, but it’s taken thirtysomething years and travels to thirty different countries to realise that it’s now time to spend more time reconnecting with family, near and afar. I believe I would have felt this way if I hadn’t come on this journey in Latin America. My friends who have done the similar route here said it would be life changing, but I didn’t think it would be in this matter.
Tomorrow I’ll be boarding a QANTAS flight back to Sydney where I’ll spend the rest of the year and January enjoying the Sydney sunshine. I was supposed to recommence the life I left in April this year, but for the above mentioned reasons, those plans are now on hold. It’s taken me eight months of solo travel and isolation from any other distractions to listen to the voice in my head and take action from what I’ve learnt along this journey to know where the next twelve months will take me. Many people spend their time thinking about the future whereas for me, I’ll be spending some time discovering the past. The future has never been so clear and there’s no better time than the present to take a few risks. It’s going to be quite the adventure.
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving and/or what are you thankful for?