So far, the holidays that I’ve celebrated here in the U.S. always come along with something I do not expect. Previously, I celebrated Halloween with my Friendship Family with some pumpkin-carving and cozy time together. I didn’t get to dress up and head downtown to costume parties or even trick-or-treating (I’m not too old for that). This time during Thanksgiving -- my second holiday for the first time here in the U.S. -- I had salmon for Thanksgiving dinner instead of the traditional turkey. I didn’t miss out on the traditional pumpkin pie for dessert, though.
Although the holidays that I’ve celebrated so far here aren’t like what I expected, I still enjoyed all of them very much nevertheless. Recently, two girls (Sthela and Yuen Ching) from the scholarship program that I am under (ELCA’s International Women Leaders Program) were invited to the Women’s Gathering conference in Austin, Texas. They had the privilege to meet Rebecca Shaw (Becky), one of the program’s active members, who then invited them over to her mother’s place in Decorah for Thanksgiving dinner. Becky also cordially invited Melissa and I (the other two scholars) to her place when she got to know we were part of the program as well.
On the day itself, Bob, Becky’s husband picked Melissa and I up in front of the Union. It was then I found out Sthela and Yuen Ching couldn’t make it to the dinner, unfortunately, as they had other plans. Becky’s mom’s place was nearby Phelps Park. It was a beautiful duplex located in a peaceful, natural surrounding. Becky greeted Melissa and I warmly when we entered the place, and later on we had a small chit-chat over a glass of Chardonnay to get to know each other better. It wasn’t long before we noticed the two sheepdogs at the basement of the house staring longingly at us. Bob unlocked the gate and let us have fun with Asher and Dolly, the two most tame yet playful sheepdogs I’ve ever seen! We were also joined by Becky’s cousin, Alice not long later and we had a good time discussing about my plans in the future regarding my major and her experience in that field as Alice was an English professor.
Dinner was prepared sooner that we expected. We had an entrée of apple salad with raspberry dressing, followed by the main dish -- fresh salmon cooked with lemon and herbs along with some beans, rice, carrots, and bread. It was light yet fulfilling. I was glad we had fish for a change. While Becky was waiting for the pumpkin pies to be ready, Melissa, Bob, and I went outside to the balcony to get some air and he showed us around. The house had a great view of the nature surrounding it as well as Luther from far. Afterwards, we headed back to the dining table to enjoy each other’s company over pumpkin pies, ice cream, and coffee.
Becky and Bob then took Melissa and I back to campus later that evening, and it was hard to say goodbye to everyone as well as the dogs. I especially enjoyed how close and cozy it was with the Shaw family as it wasn’t a big crowd over at their place for Thanksgiving. They were a wonderful and welcoming company, and I’m thankful for having the chance to spend my first Thanksgiving with such a warm family.