Saturday, November 29, 2008

The International Feast

It is the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, the traditional night of the International Feast.  Never heard of it?  Well if you were part of my extended family and friends you would know exactly what I am talking about.  Ten years or so ago I started a tradition that grew and grew and grew.  Then my marriage broke up and the tradition died with it.  It didn't have to die, I just didn't have the heart to do it the first year and haven't felt the need since then.  Today is the first time I have actually missed it.

The way it started is that my brother was visiting from Florida and my cousin was visiting from Colorado that first year.  Both my parents and my aunt and uncle are divorced so the two boys were gonna have 2 turkey dinners each.  I wanted to get all of us together but obviously I didn't want to serve another turkey dinner.  So I came up with the "anything but American food" idea.  Not that I don't like American food, I do...but I wanted a theme for my party and that seemed like a good one.  I only invited my grandmother, mother, sister, brother, dad, cousin and aunt that first year and they all came.  I told them that they could bring anything they wanted but it had to be from another country and then I gave them a list of possibilities, such as Swedish Meatballs.  I bought a sushi platter from my favorite sushi restaurant, a selection of imported cheeses and crackers from the grocery store, chicken kabobs and hummus from my favorite Afghan restaurant and a few other items.  My mom brought Danish ham rolls, my sister brought Spanish clementines etc.  The food was a hit and the party was fun.  

Later when I told my friends what I had done they all thought it was a fabulous idea and wanted to be invited the next year.  So, when November rolled around again I sent invitations out to a larger crowd.  Because I live close to the nations capital I also have lots of friends from other countries and most of us have lots of different nationalities in our family tree, so soon I had quite a menu with special items from Brazil, Ukraine, Italy and other countries.  That second year I went to a local flag store and bought the flags that represented the guests who were coming.  Now a new tradition was born and I continued to collect small flags and ornaments from as many countries as I could find to decorate the house.  One year I put my Christmas tree up before the party and decorated it with white lights and all the flags.  It was my International Tree and I loved it.  

At about this same time I was taking a Folklore class at GMU and we had to do a paper on a family tradition that we had started or witnessed, so of course I had the perfect topic.  Needless to say I got an A on that paper!!

The party grew and grew, the last year that we had it we actually rented a local hall that has a homey feel and a fireplace at either end.  We had a huge crowd that year and had tons of fun and tons of food.  

And marriage ended, I stopped celebrating Christmas altogether and I never had another International Feast.  Today I am thinking that it is time to revive the tradition.  I'm not sure if I will wait til next Thanksgiving or plan one sooner.  Have to think on that.  If I do it again, do you want to come???

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