‘I Had Never Heard of Thanksgiving’

By Adarsh Gurung

When I arrived from Bhutan, I had never heard of Thanksgiving, and it took a while for me to figure out how widely it was observed, all over the United States. As fate had it, I was soon invited to my first Thanksgiving dinner by my cousin, Suman Gurung, a software engineer.

By the time I reached his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, I had many questions. As I entered, I saw this huge roasted turkey on the table. What were we celebrating, I asked Sonam Leki, a 26-year-old Bhutanese who graduated from M.I.T.

“It is similar to our culture, because there is food and it brings memories and it’s all about togetherness,” she said. That sounded right, with all the food, alcohol, friends, family and laughter. But I had trouble digesting that this so-called Thanksgiving be replacing our Bhutanese festival feast Losar in our hearts.

Pema Geyleg, a 27-year-old software engineer, made me feel better by explaining, “I called a lot of people because turkey is huge, and it cannot be finished by few people alone.” The bird on the table weighed a massive 25 pounds.

On my way home, I asked the bus driver how he felt about working on the holiday. “I just can’t wait for my shift to end and rush to my family,” he said. I hope he made it on time, because it was 7:30 p.m. when I asked him.

Late that night, I connected on Facebook with my sister Sonam, who is studying in Minnesota. How was her first Thanksgiving? “It was awesome, because the food was good, it was different, it was sort of a time to bond,” she said, going on and on. Now I wonder if Thanksgiving will become my main festival. The nice feeling of being with so many people I know, and the incredible food make me think maybe it will.

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