Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

The Macy’s Day parade is cheesy, sure, but never lacking entertainment. The variety of smells that comes from the kitchen – turkey, pie, stuffing. The white wine consumed while checking timers and catching up with guests. The football games that I never care about and hope to end soon for whatever holiday movie follows. The traditions that continue even as kids grow up and add more to the family. Loved ones – related by blood or not – surrounded around table, passing dishes of God’s grace and reflecting on blessings.

Even away from family, I’ve had great Thanksgivings. A group of strangers coming together in a small house in the Bay Area. Around old tables and couches, reflecting the gift of being in that moment at the time, not realizing it would soon be taken from us, in Zinder, Niger. And last year, treats of the closest thing to American food we’ve had since leaving the country and bouncing in and out of a pool.

I keep forgetting that it is Thanksgiving today. I do have plans with friends in a mountain district two weekends after the holiday, a feast we’ve been planning for months, and it will surely be another blessed holiday. To celebrate today, I ran this morning and then was called into a meeting. I will likely feast on some instant mashed potatoes my aunt sent me (shush, they are delicious).

Yet, the day brings thoughts of home. This will be my third Thanksgiving-Christmas season away from home and it hurts nearly as much as the first one. I can’t accurately describe this pain, so I won’t.

Still, I have a lot to be thankful for and I will concentrate on that for the rest of this blog post. All month long I’ve been writing down things I am thankful for in my journal and I am going to share some of them, along with a few others here.

I hope that wherever you are good food and good people surround you. Happy Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for:
– Other PCVs, the jokes, stories and secrets we share.
– For pools, pizza and Black Label.
– Students who ask for my help.
– My students who wanted to show their love for me with song.
– Things like bed bugs and broken latrines so that I can practice patience and letting go of worry.
– An amazing host family and the – ability to trust in them.
– All the writing I’ve been doing this month with two blogs, my Journal columns, NaNoWriMo and journaling.
– Emails from receptionists.
– Learning to appreciate water.
– Packages, especially when they come with chocolate and new music.
– Hannah and taco nights.
– Nail polish.
– Sunday afternoon phone calls with my family.
– Early morning runs and followed by reading.
– Whatsapp and the ability to message with my friends like I was back in the U.S.
– The smell of summer and rainy mornings.
– Running and the ability to do so.
– Honest conversations.
– Waterfalls in my village and the sound of rushing water.
– To live in a place that allows me to absorb nature.
– For a fumigated house (to get rid of the bed bugs) that forced me to spend time with my ‘m’e and host brother on their porch instead of retreating to my own house.
– Little ones who run with me.
– Phone chats with Melissa.
– The chance to see the Roof of Africa.
– The Marfleet family.
– Living in this village.
– Picnics and home dinners with amazing people.
– Idling and pausing.
– The unknown and maybe.
– To complete NaNoWriMo.
– The ability to run 18 miles.
– Long emails with friends.
– The four students. In March seven of my students didn’t pass. In December, only three.
– Tomatoes.
– Music.
– Having to pull my own water.
– Confusing days that remind me I’m trying.
– Basotho’s sweet songs.
– The experience to live on a limited budget and learn about the truly important things.
– Not having to clean a bathroom.
– Hand sanitizer and batteries.
– No electricity.
– Fresh vegetables.
– The opportunity to live out a dream.
– The ‘PCV’ that comes behind my name.
– My little hut that is home.
– The people of Pierre who continue to enjoy my columns and make sure to tell my parents so.
– People who read this blog.
– Peace Corps friends in Lesotho and around the world.
– My Basotho friends.
– My friends and family who continue to support me, no matter what country I end up in.
– My mother, father, two brothers and sister-in-law who put up with my dream chasing but never move from my corner. Without them, I would not be here.


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