Being grateful in a community that is always grateful

Celebrating Thanksgiving on Isla Mujeres

~ By Elena

Growing up in the Midwest, my thanksgiving days have always been the start of the festive holiday season. The air is always chilly with a light dusting of frost of on the ground. Drinking hot cups of coffee while my mom perfectly juggles watching the Detroit Thanksgiving Day parade and meticulously timing out our dinner. These family traditions have made thanksgiving my favorite holiday and being in a foreign country on this holiday made me cherish what I am thankful for even more than I already did.

In the week leading up to thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to teach my students about the holiday and the American traditions that my family celebrates every year. Along with learning what Thanksgiving is, they made hand turkeys and wrote words showing what they are thankful for after making a list as a class. In my elementary school education, I vividly remember making hand turkeys every year no matter the grade. And to be honest, for a split second when planning my thanksgiving lessons, I completely forgot that I was teaching in Mexico where making hand turkeys are not a yearly event that becomes so second nature to the point where you don’t even think about the steps and instructions. Showing my example to my students, I was met with ooohs and ahhhhs at the feathers I had cut out and placed behind the fingers. I quickly explained to “trace” and “cut out”. When I let the kids go to make their own turkeys, hands shot up in the air as they said “Teacher, Teacher”, my instructions were not nearly as detailed as they should have been. After pulling them back in, explaining again and letting them go to successfully make their turkeys, their final products made any inkling of homesickness I had been feeling go away. Every answer my students showed me were answers I would have heard around my family’s thanksgiving table. It shows that being thankful for the things in your life transcends all cultural boundaries. This year, many of the things I was thankful were the same as they always are: family, friends, my health etc. But this year, the top spot on my list was won by my students who helped me celebrate my favorite holiday in a different way, but still wonderful way.