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The sun wasshining, but the wind was so cold that we had to wear our warmest coats over oursweaters. All around were small patches of color where the wind had forgotten toblow away the leaves. As we got in the car, I wondered what they would be like.They had a son my age, and one who was seven. To them, the chill we felt would belike a summer breeze. They were from Siberia, and were coming here, to New York,the last members of our family to leave the former Soviet Union. My mom had beenthe first, and now, this Thanksgiving, the family would be reunited at last.Before seeing them, however, we were going to go to our usual Thanksgiving feastat my cousin's.
During the long car ride, my mom talked about her cousins."I wonder what grade they'll put the boys in. Kindergarten is okay forLonya, but I'm not sure if they'll put Misha into seventh grade because of hisage, or somewhere else because of his abilities."
My brothercomplained about the heat in the car, but I liked it. It was a comfortingcontrast to the whistling wind outside. When we finally got there, the house,brightly decorated with modern art from around the world, was cold, but mysweater kept me warm. I gazed at the diverse meal in front of me: the goldenchicken soup with fluffy, perfect matzo balls in the Jewish tradition, theAmerican turkey cooked to perfection with tart crimson cranberry sauce and spicyyellow stuffing, and, my favorite, Cuban platanos. My mom finds them disgusting,but I feel that no meal here would be complete without them. In order to makethem, the ripest plantains are fried until they are amazingly sweet and melt onyour tongue. I sat savoring this meal, wondering what sorts of Russian foods Iwould have later. My cousin's dull conversation focused on horror films I hadnever seen, but I was thinking of what was to come. My mom wasn't talking much,either. Throughout the meal, we exchanged knowing glances, anticipating thereunion. Before dessert, we left. We didn't want to be late.
This time, inthe car, my brother got his wish, and the heat was turned down. I was suddenlynervous, and began questioning my mom.
"Will they speak anyEnglish?" I asked.
"Will I be able to talk tothem?"
"Misha took English in school, but I don't think he knowsmuch," Mom said. "The rest of them don't know any, but I'll try totranslate for you."
"What made them come?" Iasked.
"They wanted a better life. The ability to practice theirreligion as they choose. They also want their children to be able to aspire tohigher things than they could."
We lapsed into silence again. Soon wearrived at the apartment where we'd meet them for the firsttime.
"All right," Mom said, somewhat nervously. "Iseveryone ready? Let's go."
We crossed the street, our breath formingsmall clouds in front of us, and walked into the building where my aunt lives. Aswe neared the apartment, the air grew warmer, and we began to smell the familiarheavy Eastern European scents, a combination of herring, borscht and musk.Entering the room, we were immediately enveloped by a throng of relativescrowding around four people. They were dressed oddly, the boys and man wearingleggings and the woman a long black dress that looked like an oversizedsweatshirt. They were speaking Russian. I recognized them immediately. They werethe immigrants or, as I had begun to think of them in the car, the pilgrims. Mymom led me to them through the crowd. She introduced us, and after a few minutesof happy talk with my mom, the older boy and I exchanged a look. This lookcrossed all language boundaries I had feared might separate us. As I led him pastall the people, downstairs and outside to the basketball court, my heart was warmdespite the bitter cold. I knew that whatever happened, he and I were family, andwould become great friends.
In the car going home, it was warm again. Mybrothers' nonsensical conversation did not bother me as it normally did. I feltcontent from more than just the turkey. I knew that I had formed a bond thatwould last a lifetime. The pilgrims had come to the New World, and I would helpthem learn to love it.
Pilgrims by Lauren S., New City, NY
My Quinceanera by Ethelyn L., Phoenix, AZ
Autumn Leaves by Kara B., Marengo, WI
By Victorio F., Roswell, GA
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