Thanksgiving is a pretty awesome holiday. There is delicious food. You always get to see your family. It's awesome. And one of the first things you think about when joining the Peace Corps is the holidays you will miss and how hard that will be (because holidays are awesome).
I actually have already spent a Thanksgiving away from my family when I studied abroad in The Gambia for the second time (fall 2008). It was hard! Luckily, we were actually invited to the Peace Corps Thanksgiving celebration that was near the country's Peace Corps Headquarters, which we lived really close to. So on Thanksgiving we snazzied up as much as we could and headed to a huge buffet dinner reminiscent of Thanksgiving goodies- there was even a turkey! I only saw one turkey during my two experiences in The Gambia, so I have no idea how they got it. But it was really special and it was easy to see how special it was for everyone. And it WAS delicious. I mean, I love Gambian food- but its the traditional food of Thanksgiving is so awesome! Food you just expect on that day makes people happy.
However, towards the end of the night, I started to get kinda bummed out. I only really knew the kids in my group and chatted with some volunteers- who knew each other more than they knew my group. Everyone in my group was making plans to go out afterwards, and my main concern was getting home and utilizing the wondrous tool that is Skype to talk with my family. So when the time came for us to leave, I booked it home to hope that our internet would actually work and hold out for a conversation!
I logged onto Skype and started the video chat with my family, for probably close to an hour. I was able to see my whole family, aunt, uncle and cousins that we always spend Thanksgiving with in one frame! It was awesome. We chatted for more than a half hour and it brought me a lot of joy to talk with everyone and see everyone. Even my parents' dogs made an appearance (I'M GONNA MISS MY DOG SO MUCH WAHHH). It was wonderful. Skype is amazing people!!! Download it TODAY if you haven't already! My Skype username is reneealicia.
And even with the Thanksgiving food I was able to eat that day, we know that the holidays are mostly about family. And it is hard to feel a holiday when you aren't with them. I was lucky that day that I was able to utilize Skype to talk with my family. That might not be the case when I join Peace Corps- depending on where I am or what the situation is. But it is a sacrifice all volunteers make when they make the decision to join the Peace Corps. In perspective- its only a few holidays out of a lifetime of holidays- and Peace Corps will be an experience we will remember for a lifetime. That will have to satisfy me those times of the year.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.