Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving? One year where the holiday was super special or the food was best or there were the least family fights?
My favorite Thanksgiving happened while I was in Taiwan. As Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I was worried that there wouldn't be much to the celebration that year. Taiwan doesn't celebrate western holidays and they definitely don't celebrate a day like Thanksgiving. However, I really needn't have worried, as that year turned out to be the best Thanksgiving ever.
It started off with a Pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday luncheon for our district, provided by two of the elders. Their moms, being what some first-time-missionary moms might be, had sent their sons a bunch of goodies for the holiday. The two elders fixed a feast from the fixings they received in the mail. There were instant mashed potatoes, cans of jellied cranberries, frozen corn, packet gravy, and nothing says 'turkey' like a bunch of over-cooked chicken nuggets. Here we were, a bunch of American missionaries in a different world, celebrating a special day with a little taste of home.
The next day, the true Thanksgiving, Sister Vardeman and I went to our favorite fried rice joint for lunch. As it was a special occasion, we both ordered curry chicken fried rice. There was something different about the rice that day. It wasn't that it had any secret ingredients, or that the curry was hotter than normal, or that the rice tasted better--it was that it was Thanksgiving. I was far from my family and from home, but that day, I was truly grateful. I was grateful that I was a missionary and that the Lord entrusted me on such an important errand. I was grateful for the battered Book of Mormon in my bag and the smudged name tag on my heart. I was grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and for His redeeming sacrifice made for all. I was even grateful for the skirt and the bike and the clumsy chopsticks. And mostly, I was just happy. Such happiness I had never known before. It was the happiness that comes from spreading the Gospel and sharing Joy with others.
Lunch was shortly followed by a dinner that the ward had prepared for us that night. The traditional holiday fare had been replaced with plates of shui jiao, bowls of cherry tomatoes, dozens of guavas, sweet breads, different types of tofu, and more. No one could have asked for a better meal, a better group of people, nor a better Thanksgiving.
And that night, as I ate, I held my chopsticks with a smile.