A breeze of sunny autumn air cavorts in my hair as I pedal furiously down the passionately sunlit road, crashing through piles of scintillating maple and oak leaves decorated in fervid streaks of red and yellow. Lines of orange-leaved trees tower over me like an opalescent picket fence. The pleasant aroma of warm pumpkin pie runs up and performs a cheerful dance, then bows and travels to the next passerby. Biking home on Thanksgiving Day, I’m eager to celebrate not only my appreciation, but a hearty meal as well with my friends and family.
On my way back, I pass by the Hamilton home, and through the window I see the entire family, baby and all, gathered around the meticulously set dining table. With deep American roots, it’s not surprising that they revel this American holiday with textbook tradition: a feast complete with mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, and cranberries. Mom comes out with tonight’s star, the still steaming oven roasted turkey, and the crowd cheers like the fans of the winning baseball team, saying prayers and giving thanks before scarfing down the special supper.
The neighbors, an immigrant Islamic family from Kazakhstan, are feasting as well. They are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, or in their mother tongue, “Oraza ait”, which means “Festival of Breaking Fast” in English. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, a period of fasting and abstinence, and the beginning of giving thanks and demonstrating a common goal of unity that all Muslims have. After a month of fasting, there’s no doubt siblings exult as they’re handed new clothes, bags of money, and bowls of Quwurdaq, an iconic dish in Kazakh cuisine.
In my household, our tradition is a fusion of American habits and traditional Chinese customs. Every year, Mom cooks a savory turkey with a spicy Chinese twist. The kids receive 红包, or red envelopes filled with money, from the elders to celebrate, while the parents sit at their own table and catch up on everyone’s busy lives. My sister, my cousins and I flee the grown-ups and invade my bedroom, where we embark on the journey of Life, the board game, that is. Throughout the night, laughs and witty comments are exchanged, and although we never say express our appreciation, the love we feel is enough.
Our neighborhood truly is a melting pot of cultures. Whatever makes each family and culture unique amplifies the sense of family in our neighborhood. Our strong bond comes from our ethnic diversity and the understanding of each culture’s characteristics. “I’m really grateful for the multiculturalism our community and the appreciation and acceptance of disparities,” I think as I arrive in the driveway.
“Hey Mom, I’m home!”