Just finished a Thanksgiving at my flat with Arab, Lebanese, Palestinian, Kurdish, American, and Norwegian guests. So much food! And so many different types – people brought what they knew how to cook, which included brinj (Kurdish), hummus (Lebanese), baniya (Palestinian), and Budweiser (American).

In order to be culturally ok with everyone, I only invited women, and I didn’t include any alcohol. I also made sure there was sweet tea and hummus, foods which would be familiarly Kurdish. And I was delighted when my friend Gwen called and asked if she could bring a few friends. Of course!

But when I opened the door, Gwen was accompanied by two American men holding six-packs of Bud and Efes.

Aw, shit.

I invited them in, of course. They discretely set the alcohol down by the door when they saw the Kurdish women, though! I pulled my friend Dashne into the kitchen and asked her what to do, and she said it was fine (kesha niya – no problem). The Kurdish women just put on their head scarves again (they took them off in the presence of women) and went about eating and chatting as usual. Phew. I guess I was overly concerned about tiptoeing around Kurdish customs. I mean, everyone there was respectful and funny, so no big offenses were committed. And if they were, they were forgiven.

I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner! I feel so adult! Really, it’s fun to accomplish things like this, things which in the past I’ve considered done only by adults (or at least by people much more competent than I). But now, I’ve hosted a Thanksgiving (and for it, cleaned the apartment, borrowed tables and chairs, cooked all day, bought kitchen supplies and ingredients, and coordinated dishes). And I’m here, in Kurdistan, with a good job, making friends of all ages, and real responsibility. I feel like an adult.

And – it’s fun! With my responsibility comes a lot more freedom than I’ve ever had. Granted, I have a lot less free time, but the time I do have is completely my own. I can travel, lounge around, or host a Thanksgiving dinner. I now have the resources and roots to do so.

I’m thankful for:

Challenges. (they show me how much I can handle).

Loved ones, all and sundry.


My 28 little monsters.

Starting from scratch.

Pomegranates. Lots and lots of pomegranates.


B’kherbe: Welcome!

Hua benem: I hope that God doesn’t take this away (say this after a good meal)

Ser chao / shayninya: you’re welcome/it’s nothing.

Khosha: tasty (Kurdish)

Tayeb: tasty (Arabic)

Khoat legal: May God by with you (say to guests as they leave your home)

One thought on “Thanksgiving

  1. Rachel: Hua benem. What a lovely entry, thank you. So many holidays together, and now you are making your own in another country! Love love love reading your blog. : )

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