Thanksgiving Thrice

I had more formal opportunities to give thanks in Uganda than at any time previously thus far in my life. On Thanksgiving Eve, the USAID Mission Director for Uganda very graciously had a group of us over for a quite proper American Thanksgiving meal with thanks to our friend Mitra for help organizing.

Pumpkin pie, turkey, mashed potatoes, cheese galore, we ate a fantastic dinner that left me in a tryptophan coma by the end of the evening (tryptophan comas are apparently urban legends now according to evidence-based medicine, I’ve heard). My friend Jesper (Swedish – you know, those healthy, in-shape Europeans with the highest life expectancies) experienced American gluttony in its completely culturally-sanctioned form for the first time.

One of the guys at dinner, Andrew, started the following organization up near Gulu (see previous post on Gulu): http://freedomincreation.org/. Some of us finished the evening watching a video about his organization which deals with art therapy for child victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict.

Thanksgiving #1 group photo:

Thanksgiving Eve post-prandial picture

Thanksgiving Eve post-prandial picture

I slept well on a full stomach nervous about Thanksgiving #2. On Thanksgiving Day, Sarah, Julie, and I headed to La Fontaine for another Thanksgiving feast at the place where we watched the election in November. Again, amazing fare – turkey, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, stuffing, even cranberry sauce – filled our stomachs. I was starting to feel really, really full now by Thursday night.

But wait! Third time’s a charm. Saturday night, my coworker Dennis had his annual Thanksgiving event at his house. The stuffing and cornbread were particularly amazing. Julie, Sarah, and I had a great time mingling there, including with a woman who heads an organization supporting pediatric oncology patient families. (More on that in a later post.)

I never thought giving thanks so much could hurt one’s stomach. Now I know. But as far away from “home” as I was, home is where the stomach is just as much as it is where the heart is. I now know that Thanksgiving is quite reproducible even in far away lands. Feeling drowsy on a couch in a glucose-induced stupor with friends nearby is all it takes to make you smile and remember home (and be thankful that you don’t have to eat like that again for another year).

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