A Thanksgiving Overseas
November 27, 2009 3 Comments
Well as usual yours truly had to spend another American holiday somewhere other than the United States, which in all fact is a pretty standard thing for me. It literally is to the point that this year I forgot when Halloween was. Yep, just slipped to old brain pan until I noticed that some of my usual suspect websites mentioned something about it.
The reasoning a behind me missing so many holidays? Greed usually is the driving factor for much of this, as holidays like Christmas are internationally recognized, and therefor are paid as double time. This becomes a LARGE addition to your paycheck at the end of the month and almost begs a greedy bastard like myself to send condolences, Best Buy gift cards, and wring my hands greedily at the thought of eleven extra hours of salary in my paycheck. I have actually done the “muah-hah-hah-hah” laugh a couple of times over this, and now completely understand that, although the majority of the times I have seen anyone wring their hands and do the laugh was in cartoons, there is an actual real-world application for it. Yeah, I know, the horror; money rules my life, my job is first above anything else, I’ve gotten that all before, and for a large part it is a correct assumption.
On to the purpose of this though; I actually had one of the best Thanksgivings of my life last night, sweating like a whore in church and having to fight off mosquitoes that get just pissed off if you slap them just so that I could spend a couple of hours around the same guys that I work with eating a faux celibratory meal for a holiday that we were physically separated from by approximately four THOUSAND miles. Why would we do this? What could have possibly possessed us to recreate a holiday event in this shithole that we work in?
-I’m getting to that.
You see, to me a holiday of the magnitude of Thanksgiving has, from my experience, always been a powder keg just waiting for someone to put spark to. It’s primarily a family function, and in my neck of the woods you get that many family members in one place and for some reason all perspective is lost on the actual meaning of “family”, and events are pulled out and used as a basis for either a lifestyle critique or a “squandered potential” scenario. Smiles tend to be slightly false and conversation “pods” form throughout the host’s house as each group latches on to one or another chunky bit of gossip. Some of the most minuscule events become portents of intending action, and someone getting a second helping of the rhubarb pie will, within six months, slip into a diabetic coma and have to have his limbs amputated due to lack of circulation, or that’s what she heard in a Reader’s Digest article.
You get the general idea.
Some call it madness in a blender with a side of chaos, others have said that if “you people are so insistent on being miserable, you deserve to be together”…
…I call it a typical Alabama Thanksgiving.
-Thing is I was under this assumption that virtually all major family events just end up this way. Of course every damned one of them are began with the best intentions in mind, but I have never seen one take off as a swan and land as a swan. To me holidays are times to see your extended family and just learn how to tolerate psychological abuse that has a “but it’s for your own good” caveat attached, because that is what you do until you are of an age to reciprocate to the youths that take your place.
Not this time. This time I think I actually was allowed to see the true spirit of the holiday, and that is to give thanks to family (if you are around them) and friends (of which I was surrounded with).
I ate turkey that we stole out of the dining facility and cooked ourselves, had some of the best black-eyed peas that had ever been made on this continent, drank Heineken until my liver was floating and screaming “OH FUCK GET ME OUT OF THIS GUY”, watched one of my good friends get to the point of inebriation that he pulled out his trusty Elvis impression which caused all witnesses to laugh until our faces ached, and talked so much shit about each other that you had to hold your watch over your head to keep it from getting soiled.
No one gave two shits about trying to prove something to another or jockey for position; all were welcomed and ridiculed accordingly.
The expat cooks weren’t cooking because we paid them or that the were expecting some kind of return on their effort; they did it because they are damned good at it and they just love seeing people enjoy something that they themselves made.
My buddy with the Elvis impression did it because, well, it was pretty goddamned funny and he knew we would laugh.
In some small way we all contributed, and in some small way we benefited.
In all honesty it was probably the best Thanksgiving I have ever had.