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Egyptian biology student experiences American holiday like any other day

On the edge of winter is November, re-introducing early evenings, brisk weather and leafless trees but, before winter settles in for most of us, the annual celebration of Thanksgiving brings our families, friends and loved ones together to share, laugh and eat until the mere intake of the slightest bit of air is impossible. The same, however, cannot be said for Freshman biology and pre-medicine major Rahil Salib who, unlike the majority of APSU students, will not be celebrating the American holiday. The idea behind the holiday is something they celebrate every day.

Thanksgiving is the celebration of the first harvest where Americans give thanks for the food they receive. The holiday, however, did not originate in the states. Many countries celebrate the harvest on different days and have their own version of “Thanksgiving.” Some individuals overlook the holiday entirely.

“It was never something we would celebrate in Egypt,” Salib said. “I’m just waiting for Christmas, to be honest.”

While Thanksgiving began with Christians searching for a home in the New World, today it has become a more secular holiday that banks all things “American,” from parades, to big meals to competitive shopping. For many, their ethnic and religious ties are so indistinguishably linked into everything they do, that turkey day is just another Thursday.

For the Salib household, the fourth Thursday of every November is just that, with no significance behind it. One Thanksgiving, however, Salib’s aunt decided to entertain the American tradition, and the event quickly went awry.

“Once my aunt wanted to have a family gathering on this day,” Salib said. “She ended up burning the turkey and dropping the dessert on the floor. It was a sign.”

Coming to America can be a daunting experience for immigrants. Raised in Kuwait, Salib said she enjoyed the transition to the U.S., witnessing their traditions and holidays. She said it is simply more of an admiration from afar for the family.

Since her aunt’s first and last attempt years ago, Salib instead vicariously enjoys the holiday through the bright lights and delicious food her American friends brag about.

“I am very happy being different and not having to deal with the family get-together drama,” Salib said. “We are a family of immigrants, but it is a tradition we just have yet to latch on to, and we are O.K. with that.”

Though not celebrated in every household, many immigrant families uphold the message that Thanksgiving as a holiday is built around family and gratitude for life’s blessings, no matter where you are in life.

“My family believes it is important to be thankful,” Salib said. “For us it is just an everyday thing not limited to 24 hours.”

About Dominic Gonzalez

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