In Turkey, the 107 refugees approached. The turkey started cooking. The house lights came on. Several people crowded around the aroma of Turkey Hill and the aroma of the canned gravy. Some stared at the walls and kept quiet. Others softly thanked the men who welcomed them. Almost no one spoke English. Many of the men didn’t speak a word of Turkish, but the men were thrilled. He who has been “harassed all his life” said it was “the happiest day of my life.”
Heavenly-looking children fell in love with the two Muslim men who stayed with them, and with each other. Few of the Afghan refugees were very close. That was especially true for the youngest daughter of the refugee family who helped host their Thanksgiving dinner. She and her siblings were kind to this refugee family that year. A young girl, Roshan, played piano for the refugees with a scarf wrapped around her head. Several said they recognized Roshan from the emergency shelter where she had been staying. “The refugee community is growing,” Roshan’s mother, Deen, said. “In the past it has been a good community.”
Nearly all of the Afghan refugees have known violence or discrimination in their home country. In America, they said, there are no prejudices against Muslims. They came to this country to seek a better life and a better future for their children. Throughout this time of year, they try to remember their values and never give up on their American dreams.
The families enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, surrounded by family, in a new home. The children sat on the floor and the youngest learned to play the piano. They enjoyed a meal as close to the kind of Thanksgiving dinner they had in their home country.
The newness of a holiday meal aside, the families had agreed on a few things going into this Christmas weekend meal. Holiday cards were handed out to family members, and those serving the meal put out dishes of the holiday table’s customary foods. As they shared their family traditions, they said, it was often hard to truly express a year of those traditions but at least they had begun and it was a step forward.