As Thanksgiving approached and my homesickness became more severe, I spoke with my host mom about celebrating the holiday at the house with other exchange students. She was in from the start.
This would only work if everyone who came genuinely put effort into making this holiday special. I made a list of every dish we’d need (I took on the turkey) and sent it to my friends. If they wanted to attend, they would have to sign up for mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, biscuits, etc.
My host mom and I started the turkey almost a week early. We thawed it (2 days), marinated it (2 days), seasoned it (1 day) and cooked it (1 day). It cooked all the way to the moment that people began arriving at the house.
About 20 exchange students attended my Thanksgiving dinner. Only a few were Americans. As people filed in the house, the food buffet grew bigger and bigger. We grabbed the table from outside and combined it with the two that were already in the dining room.
Maddie carved the turkey, per her own family tradition, and dinner was served.
I cannot imagine a more wholesome, grateful group of friends to spend the holiday with away from home.