Although I'm immersed in Japanese culture and loving it, there comes a time when even I get a little homesick. And now that Thanksgiving is approaching and my friends are coming home from college, and celebrating a major holiday while I'm 7,000 miles away certainly spurs a good degree of homesickness.
The year my family hosted Thanksgiving, perhaps three years ago, was one of the most hectic and fun times of my life. We made two turkeys with two different brines, and lo and behold, the ovens weren't cooking it fast enough, prompting panic. My dad made super garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. My Nana made twelve pies. Stuffing, handmade Polish pierogies brought from a specialty store in New York City, Ceviche, and authentic Pennsylvania Dutch chow-chow also decorated the table, a non-traditional addition representative of my family's patchworked background.
Thanksgiving in Japan was a whole new affair. For starters, I was not with my family, but with a group of good friends, and others who had never had a Thanksgiving before, namely Lea's host family. Haruka, seventeen years old, had just returned from a trip to Singapore and her family, close friends with Lea's host family, came to celebrate as well. The whole holiday was shared at Lea's house. She did all the cooking, even making sure that there were extra vegetarian dishes for Ellie.
And the turkey stole the show. Basted, stuffed with rosemary and lemon, it was deliciously and perfectly cooked. Turkey is notoriously easy to dry out due to the lack of fat in the meat. I've choked down my fair share of turkey slathered generously in gravy to know what denotes good versus bad turkey, and Lea did an amazing job cooking such difficult dishes, even making a pumpkin pie and an apple pie with a gorgeous weaved crust.
Instead of politics or debate, we chatted in a mixture of Japanese and English. Then Asuka, who had spent five years in Mexico arrived. I was excited to get to speak Spanish, and then to my embarrasment, found myself tongue-tied after saying "Mi papá vivía en Mexico" and "Mi abuelita es de Puerto Rico". This isn't the first time this has happened. Last year when I was on homestay in Kasukabe I tried to give two tourists from Spain directions in Spanish and what happened was...Japanish.
"Eto, aquí está kono tatemono." For some reason, when I'm in Japan, I have to literally translate in my mind word for word Spanish sentences. It just doesn't come naturally to me like it does when I'm in America, perhaps because the grammar is completely different and in my mind I'm trying to go from Japanese to Spanish instead of English to Spanish.
But in any case, it was a lovely Thanksgiving, and much thanks to the amazing Lea for pulling such a spectacular meal together!