What My “Foreign” Mom Taught Me About Thanksgiving

I have a special appreciation for Thanksgiving.

You see, my mom wasn’t born in the United States. She had a green card all of my young life, which — of course– I thought was super cool. But her heart for America pumped stronger than any US citizen’s ever could. I didn’t know why. Was it because her “foreigner” status provided her with a diferent — a clearer — perspective on America’s heritage, freedom, and foundation?

Every Thanksgiving we’d read about the pilgrims. Mom had us dress up, act out plays, look up authentic dishes, shoot bows and arrow, you name it.

She’d search out old books about pilgrims, journals from George Washington, copies of the constitution…and this painting always hung above our homeschool room.

One year, Mom started the long process of becoming a US citizen. She learned laws, memorized presidents, studied history, and went through hundreds of notecards with information about our country. To me, it looked boring. Tedious. Over-board.

She loved every second.

After plane trips, quizzes, and prayers, she finally passed a test and got to put a little pin in a map, marking her location. My mom was now a US citizen. I couldn’t have been prouder.

And I got a glimpse of America through new eyes.

Mom’s passion showed my siblings and I how blessed we are to have been born and raised here. We are free to worship Christ — the original reason the pilgrims sailed to America. Living in this free country provides us with options we wouldn’t have elsewhere, such as traveling to other places to spread the gospel.

So this year, without digging into the positives or negatives of our government, the increase or decrease in the nation’s integrity, the back-and-forth of political debates . . . I’m thankful to have been born in America.

Even more than that, I’m thankful for my mom’s passion over such a blessing. She showed me the beauty behind my US citizenship, the windows that it can open to deeper ministry that couldn’t be done otherwise.

Thanks, Mom.

What are you thankful for this year?


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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. My mom also lived here on a green card until I was 18, when, after going through all the work and tests and paperwork, she became a US citizen in time for the two of us to vote in our first election together. It was a special moment. Like you, I’ve learned to appreciate what we have here in the US more because I’ve seen how much my mom and my grandparents (who just became US citizens this year) appreciate it. I also am super thankful to live in the United States because I know how much members of my family sacrificed to get here.

  2. Cool story! Is your mom French? Just wondering since she gave you a beautiful French name meaning Hope! My husband’s mom was Polish and taken prisoner during WWII. Her family was forced labor on a German farm until the war ended. Since they had no home to return to after the war (village was destroyed), they waited in refugee camps until they could find a sponsor to allow them to come to the US. We learned to appreciate citizenship through her eyes as well. (I bit ironic, but my German ancestors came to the US in 1727 to escape Christian persecution.) You’re right … this IS a very appropriate holiday to appreciate the many freedoms we often take for granted in this country. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story…

    I’m also thankful for a wonderful editor (you)! I’m reading A TIME TO DIE now–about 2/3 into it and enjoying it very much!! <3

  3. Very neat!
    I just have to know where she’s actually from though. 🙂

  4. That was really nice to read!

  5. My mom is still a “Resident Alien”. She’s from Canada. Where’s your mom from? I’m thankful for an opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my middle daughter in Utah, and to learn that my oldest daughter is making me a grandmum next summer!

  6. Pingback: "There's Nothing Godly About Patriotism" - Nadine Brandes

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