My homemade pumpkin soup
Katera's delicious stuffing, some bread and the Christmas-colored salad
Peach getting some drinks...
Jesse showcasing his specialty
Happy happy Kunduz cutting the cake for dessert
Yultuz and Kunduz as we gathered round the phone (laptop) to call Fawn in America...
Our beautiful flowers from Peach!
Last year, I ran away from Thanksgiving--traveling with Fawn to Yangshuo, one of my favorite places in China. It was wonderful on so many levels: the scenery was breathtaking, the company was fun and hilarious, the weather was warm and sunny, and the activities were refreshing. It was one of the best trips I've had in China. And it helped distract me from the family-formed festival that was happening in my mother's home. It helped me to ignore the fact that my brother was home and that I wasn't.
This year I decided to bite the bullet and stay in town--and try to make a special Thanksgiving here in my China home. I invited over a few of my favorite Chinese friends and my neighbors and Katera and I cooked a feast--which turned out to be vegetarian, but wonderful. (I don't like to cook meat in my teeny tiny kitchen and I don't really like turkey anyway) Between the two of us we prepared savory pumpkin soup, stovetop stuffing, broccoli and cheese casserole, spinach salad with a homemade lemon-pepper vinaigrette, cranberry sauce and a loaf of homemade bread. Jesse shared with us his homemade hot chocolate mix from America, Yultuz and Kunduz brought a cake and Peach brought beautiful flowers!
It was a really lovely evening with our "family." The word takes on so many meanings when you've been away from your actual family for the holidays. We laughed and laughed when we were telling our Chinese friends about the 1-800-Butterball hotline--so much so that we actually tried to call it, but couldn't get through to a real person. We told stories of funny or awkward holidays passed and we all were thankful for the fact that sometimes holidays away from family can have their own special moments and joys. I had been dreading it a little--but it was ok.
I was sick for the rest of the weekend (true to holiday form--from childhood on I've always managed to fall sick for thanksgiving or Christmas or both), so I didn't get to go to the grand Thanksgiving party on Saturday that is held annually among the foreigners in Wuhan. Our extended team here rents a party room and buys up a bunch of turkeys from the import store (there's only one place in town to find turkeys for sale--in fact, many of our friends in smaller towns travel to Wuhan--sometimes 5-8 hours one way--to pick up a turkey for their own thanksgiving celebrations if they don't come to ours), and many of our very extended network from out of town come in for the weekend. It's like a huge potluck and is supposed to be great. Last year I didn't mind missing it for travel--but this year I was stuck in bed with an upset stomach--so that was a bummer. I hear that it was great though.
And now it's time for the Christmas season--and I'm so excited to share it with my students and friends again. This week I will pull out all the Christmas decorations that I managed to find last year and maybe will go hunting for some more and begin to fill my apartment with festive cheer. I can't wait!