We Shared Thanksgiving!
I got an email from a friend of mine to promote an idea called Share Thanksgiving. Here’s what it said:
Engage Nova Scotia is calling on Nova Scotians to make this Thanksgiving, the most welcoming, community-oriented Thanksgiving in our history. Nova Scotia has a history of welcoming newcomers that dates back over 400 years to the Mi’kmaq, who supported European settlers with food and shelter. Let’s honour our long history of being a welcoming place by signing up to be part of Share Thanksgiving this year.
What a great idea! So, I sent out the information through my network, and left it at that.
Soon, I received a note from a fellow blogger in Halifax. Her husband was one of the organizers. Apparently, here in the Valley there was a great gap between people who had signed up to be fed and people who signed up to be hosts. Most of these guests were international students at our local university, Acadia, looking to join in a Canadian tradition.
“We have to do this,” said my husband, who teaches at Acadia.
“We need to do this,” said my sister who runs the English as a second language program at Acadia.
We already had 17 family members planning to attend our dinner, what was 2 more?
Besides, as we looked around our family, most of us have lived in another country. I lived in Japan for 3 years, my husband lived in Russia. My sister has lived in the UK and New Zealand, my brother in Belize, my aunt in Guyana, my sister-in-law in France, and my other two sister in-laws had just moved here from the UK. The list went on.
The point was, we know what it’s like to be in a foreign country, and how it feels when someone invites you into their home.
In 2015, We participated once again. Organizers at Engage Nova Scotia were looking for a family to video that would show chaos at Thanksgiving. I wonder why they chose us! Here’s the video!
When we were children, our family participated in the host-family program at Acadia. We were matched with international students and we spent the year(s) having them join our family. We were matched with 3 black South Africans – and we were the first white home they had been invited into. Remember, this was the 1980s! It was an incredible experience for us all!
Then, a few years ago, at my office at Acadia, we had a married couple from Italy who came to do research. We became close with them, and remain so to this day (my dream is to take a family trip to go visit them!)
All of this to say, we were more than happy to sign up to Share Thanksgiving!
The first year We were matched with two Acadia students from Germany. Funnily enough, they did know each other (they had met at the airport on their way to Acadia). Still they were brave coming into our not-so quiet family of 17!
We had a great feast, and great conversations.
The boys were very curious about Christmas in Germany and learned about the traditions there.
We followed the feast with a walk to view Kentville’s Pumpkin People (an annual festival that draws thousands of peoples to see these figures). This year’s theme was 80s movies!
We took them on a scenic drive on the way home, stopping at the “Look Off” to see the view of the Valley.
We finally dropped Christine and Elina back off at the university with promises of having them over again before their time here is finished!
In the second year, we Shared Thanksgiving with a family from Albania!
Who will we Share with next year?
This was a wonderful experience for us all! Next year, I encourage you to consider sharing Thanksgiving. If it’s not through this program, than think of someone who might be alone or in need of some company.
To learn more about the Share Thanksgiving initiative, visit their website.