“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thanksgiving is a time to gather and celebrate. It is a way to give thanks for the harvest and sit around a table as a family and be present. President George Washington declared it a national holiday. Since then, it has grown to include football, pumpkin pie and a day off of work.
This time last year my family celebrated Thanksgiving in the most unusual way and it is one we won’t soon forget. When we travel, we like to try new things and get out of our comfort zone. I’ll admit, I’m not one who is that open to new foods but my kids are game to try it all.
Thanksgiving 2015 we were in Jordan. That morning we started by exploring Petra. It’s called the Lost City because it has been discovered by archaeologists over the years. It’s in the rugged desert canyons and was a thriving center back between 400 B.C and 106 A.D.
The movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has a climactic scene with Harrison Ford and Sean Connery outside the Treasury. Hollywood makes it come to life but it’s not quite accurate.
When we go to new places the kids like to learn some words of the language or try to assimilate. My son wanted to wear a scarf on his head, or a hattah. Once he put it you could tell the locals were appreciative of the gesture. He felt proud in it and he then wanted to test his bargaining skills with the women selling treasures.
We spent hours wandering and exploring all over Petra. They are still discovering parts to this city. The Bedouin people used to live there but were forced out once Petra became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the mid 1980s. They are very much present and act as tour guides or provide entertainment. They are a nomadic people and while it is hard to count how many are living in Jordan, they are roughly 40% of the population. And most Jordanians are of Bedouin origin.
They are most known for their hospitality. It is part of their creed, or belief system, rooted from the harsh life in the desert. They will never turn a traveller away and will often give their last bit of food or drink to someone they just met.
And that is exactly where we found ourselves this time last year. We were invited by some Bedouins to come share a meal with them. How could we say no on Thanksgiving of all days?
We learned the true meaning of being thankful for the harvest, sharing a meal together and reflecting on how this tradition is not just American. To be thankful is universal and we should celebrate it every chance we get. When you are invited into someone’s home to share a meal, go with an open mind and open heart. Everyone will end the night full.