For a few minutes before I began writing this- I will admit- I threw myself a little pity party. I thought about my cousins who I saw over Skype and how much I miss them. I thought about my family and how this Thanksgiving felt incomplete because I did not get to partake in our yearly tradition of going around the table saying what we are most grateful for. I thought about how there were no cranberries on our dinner table (one of my favorite Thanksgiving staples!).
But then I turned on the TV and watched the continued coverage on the attacks in Mumbai on CNN and gave myself about 2 more seconds to wrap my pity party and start being sensible.
I am thankful for so much nowadays– for the heat in my apartment, my amazing friends and support here in China and my dear friends back home who make the effort to reach me 16 hours in the future. I am thankful for my dear students who brought me 2 plants today to show their appreciation for their American teacher on an American holiday that they have never celebrated. I am thankful for my friend Susan and her adorable son Max who invited all of us over to their home to break bread together and share a slice of home. I am thankful that my mashed potatoes and gravy were edible. And so on and so forth… the list could go on forever.
The last few weeks have been hard. The chilling wind has come back and I have been fighting a cold that I just cannot afford to have right now. Still, Dad is good… all the time. The sun still shines faithfully, as if to snub its nose at those harsh northern winds and remind us that we can always wander into marvelous light and experience his warmth. It IS easy to complain. But it is so much more fun to enjoy the smaller pleasures in life (a warm coat, a cup of coffee, a conversation in English- or Korean now!, a piece of really good chocolate) and laugh and think with friends to get through the unfortunate events (did you know that there are THREE different ways to say diarrhea in Chinese? And with good reason, too!).
All sentiment aside, my first lone-Thanksgiving was quite eventful! Since my friend Susan invited a bunch of us over, we decided to bring sides. I knew that I could do mashed potatoes, but realized that mashed potatoes are quite bleak without gravy. I tried a new technique for the potatoes- boiling them whole with the skins ON, then peeling, then drying them out in the pot so that they absorb the milk and butter better. It worked really well! Still, gravy is a horse (or turkey, hehe) of a different color:
I did not have any turkey juices to use to make gravy, so I looked up a recipe to make mushroom gravy and I must say- I think I did a good job with it! It was my first time making the roux, sauteeing the onions and mushrooms with garlic, and mixing the whole mess together with chicken broth and water. I made a full saucepan of it and it was all gone by the end of the night, so I guess it was a success!
All in all, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving. When my greatest concern is the consistency of my gravy, I know my life is blessed.