Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks

I started this blog several times and then deleted it.  Celebrating an American holiday in a foreign country can be a lonely day and I expected this one to turn out depressingly dull.  That was my mistake.

The school day came to an end on Thursday what would, in 14 hours, be Thanksgiving day in the US.  As I was getting ready to leave, one of the teachers asked if I would join her for dinner at a grilled pork restaurant in Mai Ai, a town about 20 kilometers from here.  I accepted and Nee and I waited for her to pick us up.  The evening was warm though the air was beginning to cool, making it quite comfortable.  My friend, Ganda, drove up a bit late with a car filled with two more teachers and their two daughters.  We had a pleasant drive  to Mai Ai until we came to a steak restaurant.  That wasn't our destination, though.  We turned right into the parking lot of a large place already filled with people.  Restaurants in the upcountry, as this area is referred to, are usually open-air affairs as was this one.  Tables were like American picnic tables only these were covered with tile.  Then I saw it.  An open buffet of raw seafood, pork, chicken, beef and more.

I was given the tray below and I went about filling it with all I could find.  Nee had her own and she added shrimp, squid and even a few vegetables.  Imagine that.  Our table had two clay pots filled with hot coals and a tin hat on top.  The center was for meats and the reservoir around the base was for boiling vegetables.  If something was too big, like the river shrimp, there was a larger grill in back.  One of the ladies came back with a tray filled with grilled shrimp.

Sorry for the poor photos.  I only brought my cell phone and the light was poor.

I spent the evening boiling, grilling, peeling (shrimp) and mostly eating.  The ladies spoke mainly Thai so I was in my own little world of meats and fish and shrimp.  I told them the story of Thanksgiving and thought of my friends and family in the US would soon be sitting down to turkey and such.  None of the American staples were here, other than jello, an Asian favorite, too, and I didn't really care.  The purpose of Thanksgiving is just that.  To give thanks for all we have and enjoy the company of friends and family.  I skipped the jello, by the way.

Last Thanksgiving, I was still living in Washington State, unemployed though training to do taxes.  I had lost count of the number of places I had applied to and of the number of agencies who interviewed me.  My career was supposed to be recession-proof and that turned out to not be true.  I hadn't worked since I had been laid off at the end of June and Nee and I were giving serious thought to moving to Thailand.  We had only been in Washington for a little over a year and had just moved to a nicer rental house the month before the layoff.  In June, life was a different picture.  We were active at the Thai temple, I was learning to ready Thai, and we were making friends.  Then everything changed.  Once Thanksgiving rolled around, I wasn't sure what there was to be thankful for.  What we were thankful for were friends.

Our friends invited us over for a potluck Thanksgiving feast.  I made turkey and stuffing, they made Vietnamese food as she is from there.  We ate and talked and ate some more and then finished the evening watching some Pixar films.  All in all, we had a wonderful time.

So I come back to Thailand now and think of future holidays and how they will be spent.  Perhaps someone from the US will venture out this way some time and I can treat them to a Thai Thanksgiving.

Next holiday...Christmas.


  1. thanks, Roy. enjoy living vicariously through your way too exciting life.


  2. Thanks, Rebecca. I never know what will happen next and I am beginning to accept and enjoy it all.

  3. Great posting, my fiend. You are lucky to miss out on all the black friday sales, holiday sales bombardment that seems to be non-stop for all of us here. We hope to see you sometime soon in Thailand in 2013! Chat & Janet

  4. On the other hand, I miss Mexican food, good ice cream and cool fog from the San Francisco Bay. Thanks, Chat. You are always welcome no matter where we may be in Thailand.