Thankful for Greek Turkeys Cooked By Mexicans, and Cricket

It’s Thanksgiving. If you’re in the US I’ve just stated the obvious, particularly if you’re elbow deep stuffing your turkey with three different recipes for sweet potatoes stuck on your refrigerator. We’re celebrating with American friends this evening. I am clueless as to what we should be bringing so we’re taking potato bake which I’m sure is not traditional nor Thanksgivingy enough – but we’re rookies.

Two of the little travellers had class parties yesterday, I kept my distance feeling that Thanksgiving wasn’t one of my strengths and I’d leave it to the experts. A complete cop out – particularly when I found out last night that the class parent in charge of the event rang another class parent for back up and support.

“Hey you’ve got to help me out with these Turkeys, I’m Greek I’ve got no idea how this works” she pleaded.

“What are you asking me for? I’m Mexican!” was the reply.

That conversation is exactly what I love about International Schools.

I hear they put on an amazing feast.

In an international world our traditions from home are introduced to others through necessity. If you want to celebrate it often you have to first explain it. Why do you play two up on Anzac Day? What’s Diwali? Why are we eating 12 grapes on New Years Eve? Why do they have Guy Fawkes day? Did Canadians invent curling? (no they didn’t).

At our American School last year an Englishman stood on the field with a group of boys and girls teaching them how to play cricket. As an after school activity the sign up sheet showed how far Cricket had stretched across the globe, but also the countries it had somehow missed. I watched our second and third traveller bowl, bat and field with others from Sri Lanka, India, England, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the West Indies. There was a shortage of South Africans and Kiwis in the year group.

An American teacher walked past the field and stopped to take a double look.

“What is that?” he was completely baffled

“It’s cricket!” I was beaming, I’d been wanting my guys to be able to play organised cricket for years. It’s our backyard summer go to game. It’s what plays on the telly in the background on Boxing Day. It’s years of memories, beers and barbecues, Howzat, got him, he’s out!

And today it is perhaps the saddest of days for Cricket. A freak accident, a ball struck behind the ear, somehow escaping a protective helmet. A country boy who’d become a man sport’s journalists were speculating upon as a possibility for the Australian team this summer. In partnership with his father breeding Angus cattle, his heart was on the land.

“The day I play my last game I’m heading straight up to the property, I’ll tell you that right now.”

As a parent I’ve sat on the sidelines, in the stands and the front seat of my car, while watching as balls have been pitched or thrown. Bats have been swung and bodies have bruised. It’s a beautiful thing, whatever the level of talent, to watch your child really enjoy a game of sport. I can’t imagine the amount of games Phillip Hughes’s parents have enjoyed. I am dismayed, shocked, and completely unworthy to feel as sad as I do with the news of his passing – but I know I’m not the only one. Tragic just doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word right now.

It’s Thanksgiving in America. I’m thankful for my family, for the joy they bring me in the simplest ways. A game of backyard cricket, a kick of the footy, a walk to the beach with a boogie board under an arm and enough change for a ice-cream on the way home. On a day when we have been reminded that life can change in an instant, I’m thankful for every minute I get to be a parent, a daughter, a wife.

Vale Phillip Hughes 1988 – 2014

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