Since the first year I moved to Dubai (2008) I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving gatherings. Though the location and guests fluctuate over time, a few things stay exactly the same. My husband, sister and I invite a large group of friends and family to laugh, catch up and break bread together. Some are American, many are not. In keeping with my parents’ tradition, we have everyone stand in a circle and say what we are thankful for one at a time before attacking the buffet.
We always stick with the traditional turkey, stuffing, candied yams, corn, gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Then, ask everyone to bring along a beverage, appetizer or dessert of their choice to pass around. An international potluck!
This year we decided to have it in Barsha Pond Park. The weather was fantastic. The park is intimate, very well maintained and the staff is great. There was one spot in particular that I was eyeballing. It was a nice lawn area with a waterfront view, was close (but not too close) to the bathrooms and playground and had nice lighting. I tried to reserve the spot earlier in the week but security told me that I needed to arrive early on the day of to physically hold the spot. As a well-trained Black Friday shopper and long time NYC subway commuter I knew I had nothing to fear.
As suggested, on the day of I showed up a few hours early to hold the coveted lawn area. My husband and his friends started to unload the supplies as I headed straight to our spot. I set up chairs around the perimeter to “mark my territory” and stood in the middle. Not too long after a woman walked into our area. She gave me a look (ladies, you know the look I speak of) and started to set up there too.
I took a deep breath, walked up to her and blurted out “Listen, I’m American and right now we don’t have much to celebrate! Please, it’s Thanksgiving and we have friends and family coming to give thanks and eat and…” She interrupted me and said “Khalas habibti, you win!” and walked away.
I quickly realized what I had done. Without meaning to, I had officially used the Trump card! I fear this may be the first of many!
As guests started to arrive one of them asked my husband “why are the chairs set like this?” He explained that I was saving the space for us. “Well, there are other ways to mark one’s territory” she replied, as my husband busted out “I know, but I wasn’t here yet!”
We all had a good laugh over that. I later looked for the woman to share some dessert, but her group had already left.
Despite it collectively being one of the toughest years for everyone attending, it was another lovely Thanksgiving memory made in a peaceful, safe and diverse country that we are unbelievably thankful to call home.
If you need a place to celebrate Thanksgiving next year, let me know!