Two long lines of food branched down the hallways: tables loaded with turkey, rolls, and every possible side dish you can imagine. Seventy-one serving dishes in all. We counted. The tables were ready, and the servers were taking that long inhale we all take when the food is ready but no one has started eating yet…that moment of pleasure and anticipation. I (Judith) let my camera fall to my side and enjoyed the moment with them.
On the other side of the wall, a low hum stretched to the high ceiling. I passed through pockets of Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, English, and probably other languages I couldn’t recognize on the way to my cafeteria seat. The seats haven’t changed since I was in school, but my middle school cafeteria certainly never sounded like this one!
Someone said the blessing in three different languages, but a few people had already snuck some bites of dessert.
The rest of us had been waiting a couple of hours at this point, those tantalizing smells distracting us from conversations with friends. The children had played games, made crafts, and gotten their faces painted. We had pictures made with our families. We greeted old friends. Former ESL teachers hugged their former students. Conversations slipped into and out of English.
Now everyone lined up. I joined the halal line because I don’t have many chances to enjoy Arabic food these days (biriyani—yum!), but I snuck into the other line, too, for a spoonful of cranberry sauce. It turns out, cranberry sauce tastes great with biriyani.
Maybe cranberry sauce on biriyani is a metaphor for this international Thanksgiving celebration. What do you think?
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