The morning India woke to learn about the violence in Mumbai was also Thanksgiving Day. The volunteers traveled by train, being joined by one another along the way, south to Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), Kerala's capital, for our November retreat. Thanksgiving, possibly my favorite holiday because of its pressure-free, (largely) noncommercial nature, brought a mixture of emotions. Although we had been promised
pumpkin pie, I was skeptical of how much a single pie could make the day actually feel like Thanksgiving. There was no way around the fact that none of us had family, cold weather, or turkey to celebrate with. After we arrived in Trivandrum, visited the much-too-touristy beach, and got cleaned up, we met for "Thanksgiving" dinner in the hotel's dining room. Well, they sure showed us.
With Kochamma's direction, the kitchen staff had conjured up roasted chickens, potatoes, something yellow that tasted as much like a sweet potato as possible without being one, real stuffing, tomato and cucumber salad, delicious soup, and pumpkin pie with ice cream. It really tasted like Thanksgiving! However, what meant the most to me was the amount of effort, preparation, and love that went into that
meal. None of the dishes we were served (other than the rice and chicken curry that none of us could reconcile with the rest of the courses) are typical Kerala cuisine. Far from it, for that matter. All said and done, this Thanksgiving may be the most memorable one I'll have for the rest of my life. And of course, before eating we
discussed what we were thankful for. My gratitude was for all of those supporting me; I am reminded daily that this passage is far from a solitary one; family, friends, and most importantly, Christ are journeying with me.