Cameroonians don't celebrate Thanksgiving Day, they celebrate Thanksgiving Months. Throughout the months of September, October, and November the churches assign each family a "Thanksgiving Sunday" in which they are supposed to bring money and crops from their farm to church. I am apart of many different Cameroon "families", but there is one I am particularly close to in Kumbo. Last Sunday it was their Thanksgiving Mass and as the daughter I was expected to attend. It began with parading and dancing down the aisle of the church, like these women:
After the gifts of money came the gifts of food. In bags and baskets. On top of women's heads. No wonder people laugh at me. These people can dance while carrying 50 lbs of corn kernels on their heads. I can't dance even without carrying anything on my head.
From the church we went to the family compound where everyone enjoyed fufu corn and njamajama and palm wine. After eating, more dancing and singing, then photographs.
Last Thursday I also celebrated American Thanksgiving with a few Americans who live in another village an hour away. We also sang, reflected on our blessings, and ate traditional food. After I left the occasion on Sunday I was thinking that although the foods, the history behind the celebrations, and the people were very different, the reasons for coming together for American and Cameroonian Thanksgiving were very much the same. And truly what a blessing it is to share and be together. Even if it requires me dancing.
Gratitude, therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to a new wonder and to praise the goodness of God.