November 22, 2016

After That Election, What Is There to Be Thankful For? Lots! My Families Top the List.

I've always loved Thanksgiving. But this year, more than ever.

It's my favorite holiday because it's focused on family and friends without the over-the-top commercialism of Christmas. And, unlike Christmas and Easter, it's a holiday everybody can celebrate regardless of religion or lack thereof.

This happy holiday is particularly welcome this year, after 18 months of presidential campaigning that was more mean-spirited, hate filled, and divisive than anything I've seen in my 87 years.

Of course, there were some negative aspects to our earliest Thanksgiving. Here is a reminder:
I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house; we had an enormous feast; and then I killed them and took their land.
– – Jon Stewart

Before writing today, I reviewed my earlier Thanksgiving posts. They tell you more than you could ever want to know about my families. This time, I'll just give you a few updates on my three families:
  • my genetic family,
  • my Kathmandu family, and
  • my Pokhara family.

The Schappi Family in China
My genetic family includes son Todd and daughter Ann; Todd's three offspring: Jessie, Emily, and Colin; Jessie's four children: Kaylee, Mckenzie, Camden, and Hannah; and Emily's two children: Emarie and Emyra.

I've commented before about my good fortune that we all live in the Baltimore-Washington area. This week, many of my contemporaries are traveling all over the U.S. -- even the world -- to celebrate Thanksgiving with their far-flung families. With one exception, all of my family will celebrate the holiday at my son's house near Frederick, Maryland -- about an hour’s drive from my house.

The one exception is my grandson Colin, who’s spending his second year teaching English to children in Kunshan, China. Last month, my son Todd, granddaughter Jesse, and great-granddaughter Kaylee traveled to China to visit Colin.

Kaylee has always had a special fondness for her uncle Colin. Here they are together outside Colin's school:


Here's Kaylee sitting at the desk in the back corner of Colin's classroom. She’ll long remember her wide-ranging dialogue with Colin’s young students:


Todd, Jesse, and Kaylee toured Shanghai, since it isn't far from Kunshan. They visited a section of the Great Wall on their way to Beijing and their flight home. Here Kaylee jumps for joy in front of the Forbidden City:

My Pokhara Family
In February 2001, I joined two pals from London on a three-week tour of India. We added a few days in Nepal at the end of that trip. Pretty quickly, I fell in love with the country and its people, an affair that’s been a big part of my life for the past 15 years. I've written many posts about my Nepali friendships and experiences. Click here for an example.

From 2001 to 2008, I traveled to Nepal twice a year. The house owned by my Pokhara friend Ramesh and his wife Laxmi became my home away from home, and I spent weeks at a time living there.
In my extended stays in Pokhara, I got to know Laxmi's family as well as Ramesh's. Her family includes her mother, her younger sister Saruz, and her brothers Santosh and Suraj.

Rahil and Ramesh are in the center of this photo I took at Laxmi's home. Behind them are Laxmi and Saruz. Suraj appears at bottom left:

That photo was taken in 2006. In 2008, Ramesh got his green card and came to the U.S. to begin working in Washington, DC. In 2012, Laxmi and Rahil joined him here. Two months ago, Saruz arrived from Nepal for what we hope will be an extended stay. Suraj, who’s been working in London, came for a visit earlier this month. 

So the group in the 2006 photo was reunited at Dulles Airport this month. That's Saruz in the foreground. Behind her from left to right are Laxmi, Rahil, Suraj, and Ramesh:

Laxmi's other brother works in Tokyo. Their family’s situation is just one example of the huge exodus of young men and women from Nepal who seek work elsewhere. The sadness that results for those left behind is evident in this photo taken in Ramesh and Laxmi's house in April 2012. I was leaving with Laxmi and Rahil for the flight that would take them to their new life in America. Ramesh's mother is next to me and Laxmi's mother is next to her:

My Kathmandu Family
As happened with my Pokhara family, my many trips to Nepal created another relationship… this time with a family in Kathmandu. This relationship has become especially close and loving. For a description of the origins of this family relationship, click here.

Nimesh has been my housemate since 2009, when he started his MBA/Finance program at nearby American University. He stayed on when he began working for the World Bank, whose offices in downtown Washington are a 15-minute drive from my house. Bhawana joined us in 2012 after she and Nimesh were married in Nepal.

The three of us regard our living arrangements as a classic win-win situation, and we decided to stick with it after their daughter Nivah was born this past March. Bhawana's mother stayed with us from March to September to help care for Nivah. Nimesh's mother is living with us now.

Earlier this month, we gathered in the house to celebrate Tihar, the Nepal/Hindu Festival of Lights:

Every day we celebrate having Nivah as part of our family. I most definitely will be giving thanks on Thursday for having her in my life.

1 comment:

Andrei Kushnir said...

John, your posting is most inspirational. Thanks for sharing. We indeed have much to be thankful for, when we think about it!