Other Voices: My first Thanksgiving as an immigrant

A young couple and their son, Mark, 2 – that’s us – arrived in the United States in 1965. My husband, Sam, a brilliant scientist, was invited to work after his post-doctoral time at Birmingham University in England, at the world-renowned Bell Labs in Murray Hills, N.J. An impossible dream came true for Sam, as he loved as a young engineer working at this iconic research institution, a post desired by all geniuses in those years.

Settling down in an apartment in the picturesque colonial jewel of a town that is Westfield was the beginning of a new life for this small immigrant family in America. Two years later, our daughter, Leora, was born in Summit, the first American-born citizen in our family.

Bell Labs at that time recruited the best engineers from around the world for its research work at its headquarters in Murray Hill. Sam befriended Dave Robinson, a Bell Labs colleague, who with his British-born wife, Peggy, opened their lovely home to all of the new immigrants who worked at Bell for their first Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone had to bring a special dish typical of the country we immigrated from, thus creating the first International Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner, a tradition we cherished and repeated every year for the duration of our 14 years in New Jersey. Sam loved it, as I committed to bring a potato dish, his favorite food. He always used to say that a dinner with no potatoes is not a dinner – it’s just an appetizer.

When we left New Jersey for the glamorous, high-tech world of Silicon Valley, we departed full of warm and unforgettable memories of this special holiday that we were introduced to and came to love and appreciate at the Robinsons’ warm and welcoming home. Sadly, both Peggy and Sam have passed away, but our tradition of this very special holiday lives on with our families’ younger generation. Heaven was waiting for Peggy and Sam to get together for afternoon tea and some mashed potatoes.

I hope your Thanksgivings are memorable and delicious gatherings for all. You may enrich new immigrants’ dreams by inviting them to your next Thanksgiving dinner. A potato dish is a must in honor of Sam.

Lina Broydo is a Los Altos Hills resident.

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