How I Celebrated Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving reminds me of Spring Festival in China. Both emphasize the importance of food, family and gratitude.

As a previous international student and now a young professional in the US,  I’ve experienced Thanksgiving three times in the U.S., but I always spent the holiday in a not so American way. I don’t have any attachment to this holiday before I came to this country. So in the past three years, I had been learning about its origin and history, and at the same time, I was observing how Americans celebrate this holiday to figure out a right way for me to be naturally involved in the future.

I noticed that Americans usually celebrate the Thanksgiving with family members at home. And of course, they also won’t forget to thank their friends, colleagues, business partners and clients by giving out sweet gifts, greeting cards, or lovely text messages with best wishes. As you may know as well, there are also lots of people going out to do volunteering work on the Thanksgiving Day to take care of people who are homeless and in hunger around them. For these volunteers, it is a great way to learn about homelessness and hunger, give back to the community, and have an enriching and meaningful experience as an individual or a team.

For me, since all my family members are in China, so obviously I will be not able to enjoy family reunion time on this day like other Americans. Although I had been invited by my American friends to join their Thanksgiving dinner or party at home, I’d rather leave this precious moment for them to spend with their family members and lifelong friends.

Instead, I usually choose to go for a short vacation during Thanksgiving in nearby cities with friends who share the similar background with me. This year, we went to Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania for skiing and hiking. For us, our goal was to relax , and to reward ourselves for the hard work in the past year.

Regardless of the different forms of celebration, the true spirit of Thanksgiving is growing in my heart year by year and day by day. Immersing in such warm and grateful atmosphere, my gratitude for others is also spilling. I thank people who helped, mentored, and supported me in the past year because they make me become a more confident, professional and capable person.

Meanwhile, I also should thank those who have embarrassed, hurt and cheated me because they make me realize that life is real, and tough sometimes. I aspire to be more hardworking, sagacious, and persistent. Future is filled with uncertainties and challenges, but Thanksgiving has inspired me to keep going with a grateful heart, not only to myself, but also to everyone I met and will meet on this journey.

Lee Zhang, Shanghai

Lee Zhang

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