There have been many firsts for me since I left Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, for Canada. First, it was the longest flight I ever had. Another first for me was the experience of fall weather; days of erratic weather patterns. My body couldn’t fathom how a place could be sunny, then suddenly turn into showers of rain accompanied by chilly weather, then sunny again. All in a day! Despite all these, I must say that I have completely allowed myself to learn and appreciate my new surroundings and lifestyle. Still, I have allowed my inner self to be immersed in the academic, religious and cultural environment that Canada has to offer hoping to take with me a rich positive experience.
Thanksgiving celebrations, a practice that has been observed in Canada for over a century now, was another first for me. History has it that the initial idea of thanksgiving, now a national holiday, was to give thanks after the harvest season1. This however, has changed over time. This year the holiday was celebrated on 9th October (Second Monday of October). Given that the holiday is on a Monday, makes for a long weekend. By the time I got to Canada in mid-September everyone seemed to look forward to the long weekend. It rubbed against me like a contagious flu and I began to impatiently look forward too. I had the honor of celebrating thanksgiving dinner with two different families on two different days. There were two things that stood out for me during this celebration; Food and Family. Although it is said that the thanksgiving meal has changed over time, certain foods were common on the table; turkey, stuffing’s, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. The large amount of food prepared over this holiday to cater for the family union was an interesting observation I made. Being a PhD student in Food systems got me thinking of the food that probably goes to waste on this day. It is estimated that the quantifiable value of food wasted in Canada is $31 billion and in Canada’s food value chain consumers contribute to 47% of the food waste2. That said, I enjoyed the festivities of the thanksgiving holiday and the feeling of family, love and unity that it brings along.