"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "
Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving in Costa Rica

Thanksgiving translates to día de acción de gracias, but just because it translates doesn't mean it is celebrated here in Costa Rica.  Pilgrims came to America after all.

Since I teach at an International Bilingual school, I decided it would be appropriate to include a few Thanksgiving lessons for my students.  My fifth grade class is all from Central American countries, so I planned for them to watch a short movie explaining the Pilgrim and the Indians and how the first Thanksgiving came about.  After discussing the meaning and tradition of Thanksgiving they each wrote down what they are thankful for this year.  

I only had 4 students that day (out of 7),  but I put this outside our classroom so others could see
My favorite is the top left:  his brother just had a major heart surgery.
After writing and drawing about what we are thankful for,  I took my class out to the mango trees (our favorite place to go for read alouds) to read Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's.  This was all on Wednesday, because I don't have English with my fifth graders on Thursdays.  

For those of you who don't know the story, Mrs. Tappleton opens the door for the milkman in the morning and the turkey slips and goes sliding down the icy hill.  She just can't tell the Mister.  So Mr. Tappleton goes to pick up the pies, but the line is extremely long so he goes to the nearby cafe to have a cup of coffee.  When he goes back to the pie shop, they are all sold out so he asks for two empty boxes tied up with string.  He can't let Mrs. Tappleton.  You can predict the rest of the story.  One by one, each person responsible for a dish has a mishap.  The Tappleton's all sit down for dinner and one by one they confess to why their portion of the meal is not at the table.  They come to realize that the important part is that they are all together.  It doesn't matter what they eat;  in fact, they end up eating sandwiches.

Well, my fifth graders loved the story.  More than I expected actually.  We were talking about the story afterwards, and one of the students asked if we could have a Thanksgiving.  Then another suggested we could eat sandwiches, just like the Tappletons.  So they got together and planned who would bring what.

Instead of our normal lunch on Thursday, we stayed in the classroom.  I moved my table/desk toward the center of the room.  Since I only have one chair, I pulled each of their desks up around the table.  I sliced up the tomato, someone washed the lettuce, the boys went to bring juice from the lunchroom, and the rest helped prepare the sandwiches in assembly line style.  (Ham and cheese, by the way).

I was kind of unsure what to do next, because I really felt the need to pray before a Thanksgiving meal, but the school specifically does not teach religion.  God solved that before I could blink, because one of the boys asked if he could pray before we ate.  Then I told my kids that my family always goes around the table and says at least one thing they are thankful for.  They were very thoughtful and said meaningful things.  After one student said she was thankful for her family, and her friends, she said "and I'm thankful that Teacher shared her tradition of Thanksgiving with us."  That almost put a little tear in my eye.  So sweet.  

First Annual Thanksgiving at EFV!  All happy and healthy :)
I really enjoyed our ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomato sandwich Thanksgiving.  I was sitting there eating my sandwich and thinking what a bittersweet day it was:  I couldn't be in Florida with my family, but I was part of making a new memory for my seven fifth grade students.

Also, one of the American moms came around and gave all the teachers mini pecan pies.  My mom always makes pecan pies, since it is my brother's favorite, so it was nice to have a little taste of home.  

Thursday night, one of the American staff at EFV, invited me and the other American teaching staff over to her house for a pot luck style Thanksgiving.  It was 6-8:30 or whenever you could get there.  I know I got there more than fashionably late, but the group I was coming with had some of the food, as did I, so I knew it wouldn't be a problem.  I'm on Tico Time now.  Seriously.

Anyways, it was soooo wonderful.  We had a Turkey!  That's actually a big deal here.  Usually you have to go to capital, San José, to buy a turkey, but this year someone was smart and asked the supermarket in advance if they would order a few for Cóbano.  I was telling my host mom and her friend about Thansgiving, as I was waiting for my ride to arrive.  They both said they had never eaten turkey.  That's so hard to believe.  One of the tica teachers also came to the Thanksgiving, and she said it was her first time eating Turkey.  

My camera was misbehaving and the flash would not function, so my pictures are not so fantastic.

Nicole and her BF, Brian
TURKEY!!!! and delicious rolls

Serving line on the washing machine!
Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, veggies, and a roll!
Only missing something cranberry. (Not to be found in Costa Rica)
Thanks to Kim (behind the stairs) we had Turkey!  
la mesa

And we even had dessert...

apple pie.  The crust was made by the EFV students during cooking class.

Sarah's passion fruit bars garnished with Ylang Ylang flowers

Melissa, Nicole, and I: fat and happy.

Although I was not with my family this Thanksgiving, for Thanksgiving 2012 I am thankful for the new "family"  that gathered this Thanksgiving and gave me the special feeling of togetherness usually felt on Thanksgiving.  Maybe my story is the reverse of the Tappleton's.  We had all the traditional Thanksgiving foods, but we were missing our loved ones from back home.  Of course we were grateful for the food, but the most important part was that we could all come together and enjoy each other's company!


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