Lots of people have asked me about Thanksgiving in China. It is not like Christmas or Halloween, where the spirit of American consumerism is so infectious it spreads everywhere. China already has its own harvest festival in early October, when everyone gorges on special goodies (in their case, moon cakes) and gets out of town.
Thanksgiving is a hard holiday to get into as an expat because it is about getting together with family and/or close friends and sharing a feast of traditional dishes usually prepared throughout the day with communal support, and also watching either football, the Twilight Zone Marathon, or newly released Hollywood Blockbusters.
Here in China, I can’t do any of those things. Turkeys are hard to come by. So are Americans. I saw two that were huge and very expensive. The turkeys that is. I don’t think they would even fit in my little Chinese fridge. I thought about skipping the turkey and doing stuffing like my mom makes, but the thought of cooking alone in the kitchen while everyone was at work or school depressed me.
Forest scheduled a business trip to MS HQ and planned it so he could enjoy a REAL Thanksgiving with Grandma Bess and family. This had me seething with jealousy for a good week. Nonetheless, I wanted to create a sense of the holiday for our little family and have a special meal before Papa went away. I thought a duck dinner at a famous Beijing restaurant, Da Dong, would be a neat substitute–but to no avail. The kids turned out to be fried and a little sick. Traffic was horrible and we all had to be up the next morning.
The Forest and Cristina Key philosophy behind celebrating holidays is Going With the Flow and Not Forcing Anything, so I moved on to plan…what was it by then, plan D? We ordered in Chinese food. And the feast included duck, a nice pumpkin dish (the Chinese word translates into "Southern Melon"), great Kung Pao chicken, Chinese BBQ pork and Szechuan green beans. Each of us shared our own words of thanks, prayed for our loved ones, and enjoyed being together.
I hope everyone in the States has a great Thanksgiving too!