A Tico Thanksgiving
When I told my community in the United States that I was moving to Costa Rica, everyone was surprised that I was leaving days before Thanksgiving. I was a bit surprised as well, as it meant missing my favorite holiday to spend with family. To my delight, I was treated to a Tico Thanksgiving on my first day in Costa Rica.
The ADE headquarters are high up in the foothills of the Barva volcano, located in Heredia. ADE English Program Director Kasey and her host family invited us to a dinner at their home in the city of Alajuela. To travel there, my colleagues in Vara Blanca and I drove an hour down the mountain, passing farms and small towns which eventually gave way into the city.
The dinner took place on a patio connecting the two houses of Kasey’s extended host family. The ADE team was the first group to arrive, after the many family members who already lived in the house. The rest of the guests arrived on Tico time, coming in and out as their schedules allowed. My birth family is spread out across the United States with my closest relatives a seven hour drive away from where I grew up, so it’s difficult for me to imagine what it would be like to live in a town with all your relatives, let alone share a driveway with them.
This close familial proximity meant that the patio was filled with cheerful chatting and laughter, with people constantly swapping chairs in order to catch up with everyone.
Kasey designed the menu to reflect a typical Thanksgiving dinner in the United States, and everyone in her family helped cook. We feasted on turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, and pumpkin pie. Of course, there were fantastic Tico touches like chips and salsa, salad, rice, and tres leches.
But Tomás brought the most important part of Thanksgiving: a focus on our many blessings. He led the group in a prayer of thanks and asked each person to share something specific that they were grateful for. I’m used to doing this on Thanksgiving, but it was something else to share this with a patio full of people I didn’t know. More than anything, this exercise emphasized the similarities we all share.
I’m used to a multitude of different family members gathering to share a meal on Thanksgiving, but I loved seeing just a piece of the Tico definition of family: aunts and uncles, yes, but also close friends, neighbors, and all the ADE staff members.
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
What are you thankful for?