There are few things that make you miss home more than knowing you will not be there during a big holiday. This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, and I knew that while my family was carving the turkey and devouring the stuffing, I would not be joining them this year. I knew that I had two choices. I could drown myself in homesickness and a finish off a tub of ice cream, or I could create my own Canadian celebration in New York.
I was lucky enough to meet a lovely group of girls on my very first day at NYU. All of us had arrived a few days early to participate in the international students’ orientation. During one of the sessions, we were asked to stand up when our country was announced so that we could get a visual feel for the countries represented. There were only three Canadians who stood up, but I connected immediately with one of them! She had been chatting with a few other students that morning and we all decided to spend the lunch hour together. The little group has continued spending time together, and we jokingly call ourselves the “United Nations”- there are Canadians, one from Venezuela, one from Columbia, one from Switzerland, one from France, one from Hong Kong, one from Germany. It’s easy to see why that name stuck.
Now, can you believe that of all the “United Nations” members, only us two Canadians had ever celebrated Thanksgiving. So I decided to host one, and cook my first turkey! All the girls were so excited, and everyone pitched in by brining a dish to compliment our bird. And so, 10 giggling girls gathered in my apartment to feast. A few came early so that they could prepare their dishes before dinner was served. At one point I looked over at the dining table – multiple hands were chopping away at veggies while stories were being exchanged and laughter was vibrating everywhere. This, I realized, felt like home. In my family, we have a cheesy tradition of going around the room and each saying one thing we are grateful for before beginning to feast. I decided to start the same tradition with the group and almost each girl said: “I’m grateful for meeting friends that I can laugh and celebrate with.”
And though I certainly did miss home, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly joyful this weekend. Not only was it a true gift to have 10 lovely humans grace my apartment, only slightly a month after moving to a new city, but I was also able to help them experience a new holiday for the first time. Each of these new friends were a million miles from their own families, but we were able to create a sense of belonging by including each other. So while it’s true that home is where the heart is, I think home might also be where you decide to share your heart.
PS: In case you are wondering: my first turkey turned out great! And I put all the leftovers in a delectable turkey soup the next day too! :)