Saturday, November 24, 2012


On Friday my final issue at That's Beijing went to print. I have one more week of work, but all that's left undone is clearing off my desk and training up the new guy. This final production cycle was fairly stressful and so Thanksgiving came and went and, with mind and emotions focused on work, I didn't have time to envy the stream of pumpkin pie photos and holiday updates that filled up my Facebook feed. I did notice several expat friends who recently repatriated posting things like "first Thanksgiving at home in three years!" That made me take stock and realize I haven't been in the US for a Thanksgiving since 2007. Here is a round up of my last six Thanksgivings:

2007: I don't remember much, but I must've gone home, since I always went home for holidays in college. It might have been a small Thanksgiving, because relatives came up for Christmas that year. I think we had Turducken.

2008: I was living in Taiwan, I'd been there about 1.5 months. James and I had McDonald's because we had yet to discover the more decent Western eateries of suburban Nankan. The highlight of my day was taking a photo of a Chinese guy with a Hitler haircut and an SS uniform. You can see the photo and read about it here.

2009: James and I were on the tail end of our big China-Mongolia backpacking excursion. We were chugging down the Yangtze on a tour boat and had Thanksgiving gongbao jiding (or, kungpao chicken), bak choy with mushroom and tomato-egg soup. The next morning when we decamped from our room we discovered a rat had chewed through all the sausages we'd brought onboard.

2010: In Shanghai, we attended Thanksgiving at my British coworker's French Concession lanehouse. Expats love Thanksgiving, regardless of country of origin. The meal was prepared by a hotel and there was a lot of wine and we played the British version of Trivial Pursuit which was terribly unfair.

2011: Similar to this year, I was in the midst of a stressful magazine production week and I also had freelance work eating up all my free time. Our dear friend and roommate Sam said that even though we were all busy we should at least do dinner. After work, I swung by an American restaurant and tied a pumpkin pie to my bike rack and when I got home James and Sam were mashing potatoes and deviling eggs. Instead of turkey, we had fried chicken and we even said grace.

2012: I had Sichuan food with a couple friends after work and then the one friend - who I knew in Shanghai, we coincidentally moved up here the same time - came back to my apartment and split a bottle of wine with my roommates and we talked about Maximum Overdrive and science fiction and this story about a black jail at a Holiday Inn Express in Shanghai that he worked on. On Sunday, I'm going to a Thanksgiving dinner that a British-Hong Kongese friend is hosting and next weekend my roommates and our circle of Italian architects are having another Thanksgiving dinner before I take the train down to Shanghai.

So, not a bad run of Asia-based Thanksgivings. I'm excited to be returning to the US for the Christmas season. And I'm excited that, in all likelihood, I will spend Thanksgiving 2013 at home.

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