By: Carmelle Nitereka
You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop. -Rumi (Sufi Mystic)
It’s been almost twelve months since my whole family has been together. This was put in further perspective now that my little brother is taller than me!! I did not go back to Washington, instead my family came down to celebrate with me. The familiarity of home brought a sense of comfort I didn’t realize I was missing. It was their first time in Atlanta and my first time hosting a holiday.
On that slow starting morning, Quanshay (former Fellow) and I ate fried plantains and watched a movie. Slipping into our own familiar routine, it seemed as if not too much had changed since she left Atlanta. My family came by the apartment in time for the finishing touches on the meal. My dad,was walking behind everyone else, sporting his favorite hat. My mom, sinking into the living room couch. My sister in the kitchen, brother hovering over the meal, and friend pouring the wine. We exchanged our respective Thanksgiving greetings.
The sun was setting, and dinner was ready. As we gathered by the table for prayer, I laughed at my brother who had almost finished his meal. I was grateful for the beautiful mix of personalities in my life. I realized I missed my brothers annoying habits. And sister, who refused to enjoy the day without honoring the silenced indigenous people or recognizing that our celebration was at their expense.
In the seemingly ordinary, I’ve been transformed by many simple moments. That Thursday was one of those days. We skipped on turkey...didn’t need the undue stress for a tradition that’s not our own. I forgave my dad. A man who was never taught to be a father,yet is an example of wisdom and love as best as he knows how. I felt reassured by my mother’s soulful ease. I invited my family to experience my change and they took the time to try to understand the freer expression of myself. We shared our past, present, and future and I felt the rebirthing of traditional consciousness, the reincarnated dreams of my ancestors.
This Thanksgiving was a reminder that the most American of traditions cannot change our roots. I am the first born daughter of two parents whose bare feet have danced in the heart of Africa. My father’s irreversibly calloused feet imprint these memories. My family and the traditions we carry are my entire ocean in a single drop.