As a ten-year old in a new country, all I wanted was to be part of this new culture and its customs. We arrived in late October 1990; one week before Halloween and all the holiday magic. My first Halloween was confusing and thrilling. We went trick or treating with my cousin which I didn’t know what it was and thought trickortreat was one word that meant something abstract and new. To learn about the new land at hand, I picked up two novels: The Babysitter’s Club series and The American Girl Collection.
The latter collection is where my dreamer self was born or least one of the places. I remember reading about Autumn and Winter and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Enamored by colonial times, I completely romanticized the era.
I hadn’t eaten Turkey or stuffing or green bean casserole for that matter. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas and Halloween since that first year, I try to top the experience and make just a little more cozy, magically, dreamy, memorable. During my high school years, not knowing any better, we made mashed potatoes from the box and green bean casserole with canned beans, and Stove top Stuffing mix to stuff the turkey. Then in my late college years, I learned how to make real mashed potatoes and borrowed my friend’s grandmother’s sweet potato casserole recipe.
Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas. The trio slowly became mine. Each with its own traditions that I owned just like Kristen from American Girl. Now that I’ve achieved that American Dream discussed in all my lit classes: a family, a house, a glorious yard, this year feels full. We threw our first Halloween party in our house; a total success.
As Thanksgiving nears, N and I have started researching and narrowing our options for the dishes we will make for our first Thanksgiving in our own home. It’s exciting, and surprising because I never thought I’d be oh so American. I never thought twenty-four years would fly by so quickly and seamlessly that I would struggle to remember my mother tongues.
Half American; Half Indian. Yet, my identity has easily become more American. I have fallen for this country and its traditions in ways that I couldn’t dream; especially, that first year when homesickness filled me to the core. I don’t want to admit it because it feels like a betrayal to my mother land; the one that gave me everything. However, I do feel this is where I belong. More surprising than anything else? America has become my home and India a past home I’ll always miss and visit. Complicated and split in half, I allow myself to prepare for this all American tradition.