My Favorite Thanksgiving
By Anette Batista
A seminary student at Catholic Theological Union
My favorite Thanksgiving was when I invited three refugees to join my friends and family. As you can see in the photo, it was so wonderful that we chose to celebrate Christmas together too.
I remember how excited and nervous I was picking them up. Three strangers stood outside waiting for me: Lester from Cuba, Luva from Uzbekistan, and Mahmud from Afghanistan. Each of them spoke a different language, practiced a different religion and, of course, had their own distinct cultural heritage.
At my home, they introduced themselves to other guests and we invited them to partake in the celebration of Thanksgiving. We gathered around the table and gave thanks for our health, family, for old and new friends, freedom, and for the blessings in our lives.
As we ate dinner, we informed them about the holiday's traditions and asked questions about their lives. When asked what was most surprising about Chicago, Lester replied with a huge smile, "It's very windy and cold but the snow is beautiful." Luva and Mahmud were surprised by the extreme weather and enormous sky-scrapers. Our guests inquired about the cranberry sauce, dressing, and even American cheese. We were delighted to see their expressions as they discovered new flavors and experienced a bit of American Cuisine.
In the process, we were becoming more than just dinner guests; we were becoming family. My experience hosting Thanksgiving was a wonderful reminder of the true meaning of the holiday: to share our harvest and give thanks to God for all His blessings and mercies toward us.
Share your Thanksgiving Table with Refugees
If you would like to host a refugee at your Thanksgiving dinner, email Juliana at firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, November 12. Include the number of people you can host. You will need to provide roundtrip transportation. Most families live on the North side of Chicago. We'll contact you by November 17th to let you know if there is someone who can join you.
Winter Clothing Drive
Winter is just around the corner. Many refugees resettled by our organization are from warm climates and arrive in Chicago with no winter apparel. We are collecting outerwear for males and females of all ages to help prepare them for their first Chicago winter.
Donations can be dropped of at:
4753 North Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
Collect Stamps for Free Cookware at Jewel
Save the Date
Join us for our annual Many Voices. One Vision. gala on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at a new location: Venue One in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. The gala features a silent auction, dinner, and dancing with live music by Gentlemen of Leisure.