THANKSGIVING
STEPHEN V. HO
         The outside of the house was dark. Large pine trees cast shadows all along the fence in the front yard and provided a clear division between the cold outside and my world inside. A warm light spilled from the window; faint sounds of a family's activities drifted out into the streets. I wedged myself between my brother and cousin; I looked around the dinner table at the familiar faces laughing, smiling, listening, and thinking. I have seen this same scene countless times. Every past Thanksgiving seemed to blend together inside my head. I looked down and saw the communion of the Vietnamese and American cultures displayed on the table. Along with plates of carved turkey, platters of rice and roast duck were lined up on the four edges of the old tablecloth. Complementing the boats of gravy, bowls of fish sauce to dip the duck in were passed around the table. No one in the family found turkey to be the most delectable choice of dishes but there were neither complaints nor suggestions for an alternative; this was the "American way" and carving up a duck or pig roast would simply not feel right. As the only American born member of the family (therefore the only possible candidate for the presidency), I, at a young age, took it upon myself to inform the rest of my kin that this was the "proper" way to celebrate Thanksgiving. I had seen families on television and in movies feast on carved turkeys that were roasted and basted in the oven along with sides of golden corn and creamy mashed potatoes smothered with gravy. My mother, who always tried to appease me in my attempts to be like the average American boy, managed to include a turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn at all of our holiday dinners. Each year there were also a few Vietnamese dishes for those less enthusiastic about ga tay, the Vietnamese name for turkey which literally means "French chicken," which is actually more in reference to a "Western chicken." Like every year, there was conversation, laughter, and reminiscing. However, for me, this was not like all of the other holiday dinners we had shared, this was the first year I was away at college and had somewhere to be returning from. This was when I discovered what home is. This Thanksgiving, things were different.

        Please read the rest of the story in THE SORROWS OF WAR AND PEACE.
Back