A year ago, as I got into the car on Thanksgiving morning to drive to a meeting I was feeling a bit blue. I started up a conversation with Kenny explaining that today, in the U.S., is a day where we give thanks. I asked him what he is thankful for and he raised his hand, waved me off and stated “that is a Western thing.” “I am thankful everyday.” Ouch. This year when I got in the car to drive to the office on Thanksgiving morning, I didn’t bring it up. Instead, Kenny asked me about Ferguson, Missouri and why Americans own guns. Oh boy. Talk about a “Western thing.” I like the tradition of Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. Our family tradition is to start the day with a friendly game of football. American football of course. Rain or shine, we’ve been hosting the Brock Bowl (Brock is my family name) for the last 10 years.
The game is followed by dinner at my sister’s house. Always delicious. We woke up on Friday morning, China time, to Thanksgiving, Thursday afternoon, U.S. time, to loads of pictures and videos of Brock Bowl, family photos of different gatherings and friends photos from around the U.S., hosting their own traditions. All posted on various social media outlets. Nice. Great to see you with your loved ones. But what really got to me was the images of the food – the turkeys fresh out of the oven or deep fryer, the plates overloaded with dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy and of course the photos of the desserts. Stop it. Enough already. It’s torture to those who love their comfort foods from home and don’t have access to it while abroad. Time for a Square Melons moment of exploring the things that are different. Shopping for fresh food in Shanghai is not the same as ordering your fresh turkey from Zupan’s Market. Let me share with you images from the local wet market located a mile or so from our apartment. What is a wet market you ask? A wet market is stocked with fresh produce and live animals. The markets got their name due to the fact that the floors are wet from the live fish flopping around and because the vendors throw buckets of water to keep the area “clean” after butchering the desired cut of meat for each customer.
A post on Facebook from an Argentinian friend who now lives in the U.S., simply states Give Thanks with a question poised, Behavior vs. Tradition. I thought about this all week and have come to realize, for me, it’s a bit of both. I’m thankful and grateful everyday for those I have in my life. I believe my actions and words are examples of that behavior. I like traditions. I like the traditions and customs our family has passed on through the generations. I have loved learning about the behaviors, traditions and cultures of my new friends in China. It’s been great to call out the things that are different and more often than not, the things that are the same. But for me and my traditional, one day of giving thanks, and eating too much food, I prefer shopping at Zupan’s.
And don’t worry Mom, Greg and I had a wonderful, traditional Thanksgiving dinner at The Waldorf Astoria hotel. Not quite the same as home, but not a bad option.