Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Turkey Season is now upon us. My friends, I cannot believe how time flies! Sam recalled to me just the other day my first Thanksgiving here. I lived in the old dorm, what I had dubbed the Concrete Bunker. At that time Sam was my only friend in this school. He partook of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and corn, emphasis on mashed potatoes.

The Chinese have a love affair going with the potato, which makes it all the harder for me to understand why they serve it half cooked and soaked in oil. Every time I’ve made mashed potatoes or baked potatoes for one of my friends they have renounced their old, oily love and embraced the creamy smooth texture and flavor only a baked or mashed potato can offer.

So now here is the interesting question: when sweet potatoes come into season you can buy a roasted sweet potato from any street vendor that has a coal fired barrel to roast or bake them in. How come the Chinese have not figured out you can also bake or roast regular potatoes?

But I digress.

That first Thanksgiving, after Sam had agreed to enjoy a meal with me I made a mad dash to Metro. Only there could I buy canned corn, along with other traditional favorites. If I remember correctly I spent about 600Yuan on that little shopping foray that I didn’t need to spend. The canned corn proved a pivotal moment in my learning to live here.

After shelling out 38Yuan for just 2 cans of corn I lugged everything home, additionally plagued by buyer’s remorse. At that time I wasn’t as financially settled as I am now and 38Yuan was a lot to pay for 2 cans of corn, especially seeing as corn on the cob was in season and I could buy about 38 ears of corn for what I had spent on those 2 cans. I wasn’t really thankful for my rashness or my need, brought on by habit, to open a can of corn on Thanksgiving.

My goodness but I’ve come a long ways!

This year marks my third Thanksgiving in China. The first year I was here I built an entire lesson plan around Thanksgiving and delivered that lesson to Sophomores and Freshmen alike. This year I did not even mention Thanksgiving in class. The past 2 years I rushed to pay my 100Yuan deposit for the privilege of dining with fellow expats at Aloha’s Diner (the other 100Yuan had to be paid at the time of the dinner). Thought crossed my mind to go there again this year but… really: 200Yuan for a single meal and the privilege of mingling with expats?

No, thanks. I think I’ll save my money. And I’ll save myself the aggravation of mingling with people so clannish they won’t let their babies explore the wonderful world of socializing, even with people of their own race. I’d just be an outcast there anyway. I’ve not made any friends in the expat community. The one tie I had to it, Carrie Ann has, for some reason dissolved our budding friendship.

Besides, for 200Yuan I can buy food for a whole month.

What will I do this Thanksgiving? Good question. I’ve come down with laryngitis that I originally attributed to my allergies. My biologically induced muteness has since mutated into a wicked sore throat, and I’m starting to feel the twitchy muscles that imply I’m incubating a virus. So there is a good chance that I’ll probably be slurping hot beverages with honey, and soups.

It’s all good! I’ll be thinking of my family in the States with their loved ones, gathered ‘round the groaning table laden with bounty. I’ll be holding the babies and passing the cranberries in my heart. I’m sure they’ll know I’m with them.

You know who won’t be with them? My conspirators. They are taking off for a bit of a road trip themselves.

So now we post these few entries for you reading pleasure. In about a week they’ll be back and I’ll send them what I write up while they’re gone, and we’ll all catch up to one another on the flipside.

Till then, I hope the list of things you are thankful for is so long that it can circle the globe, at least several times. We can mingle your list and mine, blanketing the world with joy and gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!           

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