Saturday, December 3, 2011


Thanksgiving was long ago, or less than a couple weeks ago. It depends who you ask. For me, living abroad with Americans and fellow Canadians I am lucky enough (or thankful even) to call it both.

At the beginning of October I tried to help organize a Canadian Thanksgiving that was just not quite the same as home. For one, we left the purchasing of the turkey way too late and when we went to the Sultan Center (the big grocery store here) the turkeys were sold out. It was just as well, if we were able to purchase a turkey, we also did not leave us enough time to defrost and cook it. We opted for a chickenand a roast instead.

I was in charge of the grilled chicken, which doesn't mean I cooked it. I went to my favourite little restaurant and picked myself two up to share with everyone. We did a pot luck style meal, so there were plenty of fantastic dishes that we all shared. None of our apartments are big enough to host the 20 people or so who attended, so we set our coffee tables up in the hallway and sat on couch cushions. It reminded me of the meals I used to eat at some restaurants in Korea.

The group itself was fairly diverse as there were people from Canada, and the USA, as well as England and Ireland (their first Thanksgivings). Overall it seemed to be a success, with the Americans vowing to host their own Thanksgiving dinners, which is what I will talk about next.

We held Canadian Thanksgiving on a Friday, despite the holiday actually being the following Monday. We all had to work Sunday and Monday. I chose Friday because I also had hockey on the Saturday.

American Thanksgiving is the last Thursday of November and there was no shortage of turkey that weekend. School ended for the weekend as usual on the Thursday and because of Islamic New Year we had a long weekend (so Sunday off). My principle, an American hailing from Minnesota, hosted the first thanksgiving for all the elementary boys staff. This included the North American staff as well as the specialty teachers from a variety of places. I don't know them all, so I can't say for sure where everyone was from, but there were more than one middle eastern country represented as well as Romania that I know of.

It too was a pot luck style and I opted to bring Hummus, an easy dish that there is an abundance of stores that sell it in my area. The best of the dishes? The turkey of course! I went up for more than one serving of that and stuffed myself. I think turkey may be one of my favourite things to eat.

The next day we did it all over again at one of the other teacher buildings our school owns. Some of our guests for Canadian Thanksgiving held their own American Thanksgiving. They used their influence on the US army base to bring in a turkey fryer and cook the turkey properly. It too was pot luck style and I once again brought good ole reliable hummus. They also used their hallway and coffee tables to create the same atmosphere we had at Canadian Thanksgiving.

I should probably mention that they had ham, which may not sound like a big deal, but spend 3 months in Kuwait and you will realize it is. Perhaps pork is the hardest thing to get a hold of in this country. That is certainly the only time I have ever seen it.

I will conclude this Thanksgiving post with my thoughts on Christmas. I am a scrooge and enjoy walking around in December and not being reminded of the Christmas season. I enjoy and miss Thanksgiving far more than I will Christmas as it has the things I like about Christmas (family togetherness and turkey) without the things I loathe (the greed and fake feeling the season brings).

I only get a long weekend during Christmas, having to work until the 22nd and going back to work the 26th. I get the Sunday of Christmas off and that is it. I will be in Cairo during that weekend, looking at the pyramids and knocking something off the top travel list I created at the beginning of this year.

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