Turkey with Chopsticks
Thanksgiving as an expat is a day of mixed emotions. It lives up to its name and makes you stop and appreciate the important people in your life. But when most of those people are on the other side of the world, it also does a great job making you homesick. And so, with an ambivalent heart, I stepped into my very first Thanksgiving in Vietnam.
After work on Thursday (yes, it’s just a regular work day here) a group of us Vietnamese residents and citizens met up to celebrate this special American holiday in our own way. Instead of turkey there were noodles and shrimp. Instead of cranberry sauce there was soy. Instead of warm winter jackets, we wore tank tops. And instead of looking for Christmas trees the day after, I went to the beach after work. But some Thanksgiving traditions were the same. There was a ton of food. There was a ton of wine. Each person at the table said one thing they are thankful for. Most importantly, it was an evening shared with great people.
Americans may have been the ring leaders for our Thursday night extravaganza, but we were joined by Aussies, Kiwis, Brits, Malaysians, Polish, French and, of course, Vietnamese friends. There were several languages spoken at once, several lost-in-translation moments explaining why we celebrate Thanksgiving, and several moments of missing home.
Holidays overseas are always a little strange. You can’t help but wish you were with your family. But it’s awfully nice when you find that you have new friends to fill the table, and new stories to share. It’s not the same as being home, but it sure is nice.