Despite the relative ease of translation (eid al-shukr, عيد الشكر) Jordanians just don't get the whole Thanksgiving thing. It's not Christmas or Easter and it's not a Muslim holiday, so what the hell is it? And why are 20 unrelated young people of both genders congregating in that apartment? The only answer could be to do illicit things, at 3 in the afternoon!
I like how my friend, Alex, tried to explain the whole thing to his homestay family. "Well, when the Pilgrims came to America they didn't have much food and so one day they had a big feast together with the Indians and they all shared everything, and it was really nice. But that was only the first one. After that, the Pilgrims killed all the Indians." He then revealed to them that the turkey is a separate species and not in fact a special type of rooster. And all this in Arabic, I'm impressed Alex.
For me, I just stuck to saying it is an American holiday where we get together with family and eat a lot of food, and people generally just smiled and looked confused while I went back to roasting my turkey or searching the Safeway in vain for french fried onions.
It was the first Thanksgiving where I actually tried my hand at a number of my family's recipes. With a lot of improvising, mainly from-scratch ingredients, and about 10 hours in the kitchen, I managed to come out with a pretty decent array of food: green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, a roasted turkey, and a massive pumpkin pie.
Add to that the variety of dishes brought by about 20 of my closest friends from SIT and you've got yourself a rather hearty Thanksgiving spread! The party went really well, we all had a ton of fun, and I think for all of us it was nice to have a taste of home for the day.
And then comes the part where I got kicked out of my apartment. Not as bad as it sounds, really, just quite a trip that I wasn't expecting to make this week.
As people were still arriving to the party, a man appeared at the door with the building guard to ask us what we were doing. We explained it was Thanksgiving and all of that, but he meant what we were doing in this apartment period. It seems that he was the owner of the building and had no idea that I was living there (I was supposed to be with my host mother's sister, who never came from America). It was shortly after the man left that I got a call from Ghada, my host mother:
"Don't say anything about the party to anyone. They might call the police. You need to move everyone up stairs (to her apartment) right now, there isn't any time. If anyone asks you were never downstairs."
Strange, but this is daily fare for my homestay. We moved the party upstairs, and like I said it went really well. During the dinner, Ghada pulls me aside to tell me that I will have to leave my apartment in the next two days and move upstairs with Alex (different Alex than earlier in the post) who is essentially my host brother, also from SIT. Apparently her sister is never coming, and so she sold the apartment back to the owner. And no one bothered to tell me this until 2 days before I get evicted. Thanks.
Immediately after the party ended, we started moving all of the furniture out of my flat into the one upstairs (which had no room to take it all). The next morning, I finished the job by packing up everything I own in Jordan and moving up with Alex.
It is still a fine situation, we get along great, but it was a jolt that I wasn't expecting. And I think it was this jolt that really set me loose enough that I am now ready to come back home. I'll be living out of my suitcase for the last couple weeks in Jordan, because there is neither room or need to unpack again before I leave. After finally becoming stationary for a while, I was thrust back into a transitory state, and once I hit that point I have to keep on going.
I've noticed in just the past few days that I have stopped making as much of an effort to see people in Jordan and more of an effort to catch up with friends from back home. It's a strange sensation, and despite being frustrated at times here in the last 6 months, this is the first time that I've really been ready to go. I guess it's good in a sense that I'm experiencing this now, but I've still got 24 days until I actually get home, and I expect to live those to the fullest. Wish me luck, I'll keep you updated on how that goes.
(I'm thankful for Cece and her lovely photos from Thanksgiving that I stole from Facebook)