Sunday, November 26, 2006


A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

It just so happened that this year the American Thanksgiving fell on a Japanese national holiday. Of course, I went all out and made a turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, the works, right? Well, I bought everything I needed to make a pumpkin pie, including a new pie dish. Still, my oven did not get a workout. Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays growing up. We would usually be out in the desert camping and my mom would go to the ends of the earth to prepare a complete Thanksgiving feast in our camper. I swear that woman has a magic wand hidden somewhere. Amazing. Then there were the left over turkey sandwiches on squishy white bread, with Miracle Whip, lots of salt and pepper and if you did not eat them quickly enough, the dry desert air would make your bread crusty. Sorry, what was I writing about again? Oh, yes! Thanksgiving in Japan. One year I went to dinner at a missionary’s home in Kobe. The food was fabulous, but the best part was playing games after the meal. Another year all the local foreign English teachers held a pot luck and that was good fun, too. Then came the year I went all out trying to keep my American traditions alive and they were met with such a lukewarm response that I was still too deflated the next year to go to all the effort again. Every year, I think about Thanksgiving a lot, but I have not been able to pull it together. As Sam and Mina get older, I want them to have what I had growing up, but, well, there are no deserts in Japan and I am nowhere near as skillful as my mother in the kitchen. When I was thinking about writing this, I planned to write about how we had a nice family day and that maybe our Thanksgiving will just take on a different shape. Now that I am writing it though, I want Thanksgiving. I really do. I don’t want a substitute tradition or just the pumpkin pie. So, I resolve now to get my act together next year. I will buy a turkey baster in The States this summer. I will order the turkey from The Foreign Buyers Club and make sure it is small enough to fit into my Japanese oven. I will ask my mother for her stuffing recipe and I will shell out five dollars for the can of cranberry even though I may be the only one who eats any. After all, I already have the pie dish.

Being British, I don't do Thanksgiving (though I wish we did, it is such a good idea for a holiday - we should all take time to reflect on the many things we have to be grateful for...) but I understand your feelings because that is what happens to me about Christmas. My husband likes it well enough if I do it all but couldn't care less if I didn't. It makes things lonely. Luckily I have two boys who I have indoctrinated thoroughly! (Just can't get them to like Christmas food though - they'd rather eat sushi and that plastic strawberry shortcake.)
I`m Canadian so we have Thanksgiving a month early. Even so, it`s never been a holiday I miss. Now Christmas....that one gets me every year. This year we will be at an onsen! How weird is that?!

Thanksgiving in a camper in the desert is intriguing. How wonderful!
You GO!! I'm in no position to talk, but I think taking the bull by the horns (turkey by the.... wings?) is the only way you will begin to assuage that longing for traditions from home - that other home - at home.
Now how's about Christmas? No tamales, but...
Hi Brenda,

Joe Pearson here.

Boy, has it been THREE months since I was in your neck of the woods? Time is tearing past.

Anyhow, I think back often with fond memories of my two day stay at the Tanakas. You and Toshi were terrific hosts, guides and very, very patient listeners. Heh.
And the kids! I could go on for hours about your offspring. One of the big highlights of my ten day trip to Japan were the mornings at your home and the mighty Mina and the formidable Sam tore happily around the house in full pre-breakfast frenzy. What great kids. And great parents. I think you both are doing a terrific job with them.

I never really wanted kids much, but watching yours at such close range has made me realize that I probably missed out.

Well, give my love to all of them, Mina, Sam and ah, um, you know...what's his name...Oh yeah! Toshi!

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