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The African Diaspora’s Thanksgiving

When you’re fresh off the boat in the U.S., you know all about Christmas and Ramadan. Thanksgiving is a different story. Back in 1994, my first year in America, I saw how seriously people took the third Thursday in November—it’s like a second Christmas! But between stress and survival, I didn’t have time for another oyibo holiday.

That first Thanksgiving, I told my manager, “Please give me all the hours that you have available that week so I can make money while other employees are goofing off.”

By my second Thanksgiving, I slowly began to embrace that four-day weekend in late autumn. It was a time when I could be with family and reflect not on some religious expression, but on the natural life-giving act of gratitude. It became a day to count my blessings and name them one by one—starting with “I am finally in America.”

On my third Thanksgiving, I told my manager, “Please, I cannot work on Thursday” because I had made plans to bake my first ever turkey and try out all the traditional American fixings (with a few dishes from back home for emergency fill-ups). It’s been a tradition ever since.

This Thanksgiving, I have one wish for my fellow African diaspora: Sit around with family and friends, introduce some thumping Afrobeats, and thank God for family, friends, work, health, papers and the United States of America.

— Uzoma