Finding home abroad

A Thanksgiving story

Anna Cley
3 min readDec 27, 2020

In France where I grew up, Thanksgiving exists only on screens in the American TV shows. We don’t really understand what it is, but we know it is important on the other side of the ocean.My first Thanksgiving experience occured a few years ago after moving to the US. It was a “Friendsgiving” and felt more like a party than what I had seen on TV. In fact I remember more the joint I tried that night, and the ash that burned my vocal cords, followed by a severe cough… Needless to say, I never tried again. The joint anyway.

Thanksgiving came around the year after, and the year after that year… I got invited last minute by someone I had just met. I remember how thrilled and nervous I was altogether. I almost turned back home when I arrived at the address. I had brought a nice cake from a French bakery in Manhattan, not knowing if I was doing it right. I received the warmest welcome you can imagine. Yet, I was still nervous, and because of my anxiety, I could not remember if I had unplugged the iron at my place.

After greeting everyone and thanking them for inviting me, I did turn back home to shamefully unkowledge that my iron was unplugged — and cold — indeed, wasting over an hour of time in New York traffic. I returned to the address a lot more relaxed, as I now knew what was expecting me: a safe and warm home.

In fact, it was the most beautiful celebration I’ve ever experienced. Everyone had brought some home-made meal. They were curious about one another, curious about me, and talked to each other with great care and an open heart. Then, as we were all sitting around a colorful table of tasty smells, the “turn of gratitude” started. We all shared what we were grateful for this year. It was extremely special, and a rare moment of communion.

That night, I made some very important connections. People who showed me another way of living. Friendships that are still in my life today.

Grand Central Terminal, NYC, January 2014 — First time in the USA

This year, Thanksgiving was not the same. I missed my friends, and all those who became my American family over the years. Unknowingly, they made me a better version of myself.

In the midst of this chaos, I counted my blessings. I am so lucky and thankful for the incredible human beings that I met over the years. Thank you for seeing me, thank you for your beauty, for your warmth, for your love. I am thankful for all the strangers who made me feel welcome and home even if I am a foreigner everywhere I go.

I am thankful for the life that runs on this planet; For the sun and the water; For the singing birds, the curious deers and the chipmunks that always make me smile; For the creativity of humanity, music, arts, and sciences; For the heat when it’s cold and the cooler in summertime; For the wonderful opportunity we have to co-create our world, to connect to each other at anytime and all over the world; For all the lightworkers of the world who nurture and share their gift to make the world a better place.

THANK YOU for spending this very moment with me.

To learn about “The Journey of the Heart”, visit

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