Celebrating an Expat Thanksgiving: A Comedy of American Error


For the serial expat, American Thanksgiving can mean a myriad of culinary and cultural challenges, depending where on the globe one happens to be planted.

Sara and I have celebrated the holiday in a number of countries from Southeast Asia to South America, and are anticipating our first this week in Cuenca, Ecuador.

By far, however, we hosted our most memorable Thanksgiving dinner in post-earthquake Haiti, on a day during which we had no electricity and had to generate what little we could to keep the refrigerator running and the lights bright enough to carve a bird that barely fit in our tiny oven.

Small stove in our Port-au-Prince kitchen--

Small stove in our Port-au-Prince kitchen–

Last year I was honored when the Huffington Post published a story about our holiday in Haiti.

This year, however, I’ve rewritten and improved it, first for a literary reading in Cuenca and now for your holiday enjoyment.

It’s meant to entertain, as the experience was anything if not laughable, but it has also forces me to question my own inclinations to over-consume, as well as my American well-fed place of privilege.

Here’s how it happened:

When my partner Sara and I moved to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake leveled most of Port-au-Prince, we faced some serious challenges.  Sara directed recovery efforts for a major international housing NGO.  I accompanied her in a non-official capacity.

When Sara began looking for our home there, I had only one request: I wanted an oven.

We relocated to Port-au-Prince from Vietnam, where we had lived for a year with only a cook top in our kitchen. I hated our oven-less life. I wanted to bake.

So Sara did what any cake-loving partner would do. She found us a home in Haiti that featured an oven — a real, honest-to-goodness gas oven — minus the thermostat.

“Are you serious?” I said to Sara at the time, realizing there was no way to set any specific temperature on our less-than-perfect-by-American-standards home appliance, any temperature, either Fahrenheit or Celsius.

“Oh, that’s not that important. You’ll figure that out,” Sara insisted, when I pointed out the problem.

I moaned to myself over the coming months, especially when twelve attempts and twelve burnt batches of Schnickerdoodles later, I was still figuring.

But for Thanksgiving I needed an oven, a temperature-controlled oven, I whined in my own mind, and sometimes to Sara.

As an American I couldn’t imagine celebrating Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. After all, it’s the Macy’s Parade of Thanksgiving desserts — even when celebrating from Port-au-Prince, a far-away, cholera-sickened, earthquake-toppled corner of the Caribbean, one that was feeling less and less like home.

A camp in Port-au-Prince, 3 months after the earthquake--

A camp in Port-au-Prince, 3 months after the earthquake–

Now, a pumpkin pie likes to bake for the first 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit and the final 45 at 350, temperatures too precise to register on the oven thermometer I’d brought back from the U.S., hoping to resolve this issue. That thermometer only got me in the ballpark of a particular temperature, give or take 100 degrees — not exactly the kind of precision I was wanting.

Then, when Sara herself struggled to duplicate the thermostatic requirements of the Butterball we’d managed to find (not an easy feat), I reminded her, “Oh, that’s not that important.  You’ll figure that out.”

However, shopping challenges also threatened our Haitian holiday.

Wisely, Sara and I had brought back from the US several Thanksgiving comfort foods we worried wouldn’t be available even in the expat-oriented grocery stores in Petion-ville, the upscale Port-au-Prince suburb where we lived.

One of these was canned pumpkin.

As it turned out, there wasn’t an ounce of Libby’s to be had on the entire island, or so it seemed to me — cherry pie filling, yes — canned yams, yes — canned pumpkin in time for Thanksgiving pie-baking — no sir, none of it — anywhere. And believe me, I looked.

I didn’t have a thermostatically controlled oven to bake the pie in, but I did have a full, 29-ounce can of “America’s Favorite Pumpkin” to put in it—thanks to my gift for what Sara deems OVER-packing.  OVER, my ass!  Did she want pumpkin pie or not?

I had another seemingly “serious” scare two days before Thanksgiving trying to track down celery.

Giant Market in Petionville, Haiti

Giant Market in Petionville, Haiti

Standing in Giant Market unable to find this vegetable, almost as essential to stuffing as sage itself, I came close to a celery-induced panic attack. I found myself wondering, “What would Jesus do?” What would the son of God himself (assuming he were a turkey-stuffing kind of carpenter) use in his stuffing, were celery not available? If he turned water into wine, could he turn carrots into celery? Could we?

However, it was Sara herself who performed a miracle in the end, finally finding a celery-looking substance in a store near her office. Catastrophe averted. We were that much closer to stuffing the bird we hoped to roast — at a temperature that was not yet determined.

Then, the day before Thanksgiving Sara sent me to the super market for chicken broth.

Actually, Giant carried the item in both the Swanson and Campbell’s varieties — the Campbell’s canned with MSG, the Swanson’s, in a carton and without. But being a health-conscious, not-wanting-to-consume-excessive-amounts-of-sodium American, I selected the latter. In fact, I tried to check out with three cartons of the stuff, since Thanksgiving dinner calls for broth in both the gravy and as a moistening agent in any celery-rich stuffing.

There was one hitch, however. Though the store stocked the Swanson’s (over-stocked it, in fact) — they wouldn’t sell it to me. And, if sheer quantity were any indication, wouldn’t sell to anybody, for that matter. They couldn’t decide on a price. So, when, after thirty minutes of trying to determine one, no member of the sales or management staff could still settle on an amount to make me pay, I suggested they charge me anything.

“Over-charge me,” the comfortable-and-coddled-in-me offered — a concept they seemed not to grasp.

But undeterred and unwilling to waste any more of my time-is-money American minutes, I gave up, bought the cans of Campbell’s, and headed home, risking ill-health in the coming days.

As it turned out, the MSG didn’t matter in the end.

Celery, perhaps, the most frivolous of vegetables, didn’t make or break our stuffing. The turkey roasted perfectly, even without a thermostat. The pies baked beautifully, or, at least, beautifully enough. Our dinner was delicious.

Our table setting for Thanksgiving 2010, Petionville, Haiti

Our table setting for Thanksgiving 2010, Petionville, Haiti

Still, the lovely meal we ultimately served our 24 expat friends also ate at me.

And now three years later I continue to ponder the ethical implications of hosting a feast for folks with plenty to eat in a country where children remain hungry, where they are sent to bed without a drop of dinner and wake in the morning with no substantial breakfast either.

Haitian children, March 2010--

Haitian children, March 2010–

Frankly, I have yet to resolve this — the fact that famine and feasting both exist in the same world at the same time, sometimes within mere meters of one another.

I don’t mean to imply that Americans should step away from their own plates this Thanksgiving.  That helps no one.  But, perhaps, it’s important that I step up to the plate in other ways.

Kathy with Haitian children, March 2010--

Kathy with Haitian children, March 2010–

I come from a country with an obesity epidemic but lived in one plagued with not enough food and a population too poor to feed itself. This was a painful irony.

It still is.

I still struggle with guilt about that dinner.

I still ask myself if Thanksgiving in America could mean more meals for Haiti, more aid for other hungry places on our planet.

You see, trying to model our Thanksgiving feast in Haiti on the one any American Grandma, back home, might have catered, taught me to alter my expectations when we came to Ecuador.  Clearly, in Port-au-Prince, I faced multiple obstacles to meal preparation that would have been so much simpler in a place like Pittsburgh or Baltimore. And though these complications seemed slap-stick ridiculous at first, I ultimately realized the morally complicated mess in which I found myself, attempting to host a feast of any sort in the poorest and, arguably, most hungry country in the western hemisphere.

I wonder what Thanksgiving in Ecuador will bring, since we won’t be cooking this year but celebrating at a restaurant with other American friends.

I wonder how next Thanksgiving I can make a difference here, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I thank each of you for reading and commenting over the past year.  It’s an honor to call you my friends.  Hugs from both Sara and me!

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91 thoughts on “Celebrating an Expat Thanksgiving: A Comedy of American Error

  1. Dear K,

    Thank you for posting this thoughtful essay and thank you for asking the questions we would like to hear more people ask.

    I’m thankful for all the hugs from South America.

    Hugs to you,

    R.

    • Thanks, Robert. So glad you enjoyed this essay. My thinking about this has evolved over the past couple of years–though I’m still not comfortable with the experience. Great to hear from you, my friend. Hugs to you, too!

  2. There is humor here of course! The telling of a story, its ins and out, journey and the moral value of making Thanksgiving Dinner.

    Even in America there are many, many people without the means to buy let alone cook such a meal. Stepping up to the plate could mean helping out in some way. Contribute to a Food Bank, volunenteer at a soup kitchen, buy a bag of groceries for a needy person in your community and leave it on their door…

    • Glad you could appreciate both the humor and seriousness in this piece. I’m still figuring out how best to give back in my new home–and how to do so with cultural sensitivity.

      Great to hear from you, Jeff. Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving in New Jersey!

  3. Loved it the first time and I read it and love the revamped version again. I remember trying to do Thanksgiving in Australia. The propane ran out mid pie baking and I was so distressed. All i wanted was a piece of normal Thanksgivingness there and it was not to be had that day! It is frustrating to say the least to not have all the “comforts” but it also makes one realize how much you can do without. Thanks for another great post . Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks, Beth Ann. So glad you enjoyed this version. I remember a bit about your Thanksgiving in Australia experience. We must have talked about it last year.

      But, yes, it does teach us how much we can do without–that pumpkin pie does not need to make or break our sense of well-being. What a concept! When I write, it sounds so OBVIOUS, but living it can feel otherwise.

      Great to hear from you. Hope you all have a fabulous holiday!

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Claudia. And, yes, why not go back to that! How easy it is to forget what the holiday is all about. Why does this happen so often with holidays. I hate it.

      Thanks for your comment. Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

  4. I remember reading the original version of this story and being amazed that you were able to pull it all off given the limitations of life in Haiti at the time. I have no idea what you could use as a substitute for celery – it’s pretty much in a class all its own, huh? Hopefully this Thanksgiving is less stressful (and every bit as delicious) for you and Sara!

    • Thank you, Mark. There really is no substitute for celery, and what Sara ultimately found was the most limp, anorexic celery I’ve ever seen. Looked like it had been on a boat from the US since before the earthquake.

      Hope you all have a fabulous holiday, as well. You all are cooking, right? Hugs to you and Tara!

  5. Kathy, firstly, a Happy Thanksgiving to you and Sara! I remember reading the Huffington Post article last year and laughing until almost crying. What would Jesus do, indeed? This is a great story, the one you’ll hopefully tell and re-tell for many Thanksgiving’s to come. Barry and I have been talking a lot about over-consumption these days. We actually opted to make two Thanksgiving dinners. One we ate yesterday: rutabaga, pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. We’ll roast a turkey with stuffing and mashed taters on Thursday. We’re stretching the holiday half the week…but hopefully won’t have too much for any meal.

    • Love the idea of spreading the holiday over half of the week. It’s wonderful to savor, not only the meal, but the things we are thankful for, as well. That’s why I’m loving your gratitude posts so much!

      Great to hear from you today, Kathy. And thanks for reading the new and improved version of this post. Hope you and Barry have a fabulous holiday!

  6. Enjoyed this rewrite of you previous post…it engendered an appreciation of all we have in this country and the many needs of those around the world…I’m certain that this Thanksgiving will provide less stress since someone in the restaurant will be doing the cooking. Have a wonderful celebration!

    • Gosh, you’re right, Charlie. No real stress this year. What a relief. Plus, turkeys are insanely expensive here. It’s more affordable to have someone else prepare the meal–which is fine with me! Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!

  7. A beautiful reflection on what it means to be thankful. Not just for one day, but all the time.
    This year, I’m so thankful that I got to meet you and Sara and that I got to be part of your special day. :)

    • Oh, Jackie, we’re thankful to have met you, as well! And thankful to be married. Goodness, it’s wonderful–and we have few lingering effects of the “Defense” of Marriage Act.! Yippee! Hope you all have a fabulous holiday, my friend. Take care! Will Reggie get any turkey?

  8. I remember reading the original last year and now, again, you allow us space to question so much of what we do and who we are. Thanksgiving has always been my favourite holiday, partly because it comes without the pressure of decorating the house and buying gifts. A good meal, shared laughter, time together.
    This year, we were in France for Canadian Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not celebrated here at all and most people have never even heard of it. This is actually rather amazing, in some ways, since France is a country with much to be thankful for in their history. and yet they seem to have woven the thread of gratitude into their everyday life in a way that we do not.
    Wit the craziness of retail, including now stores being open Thansgiving Day, I often think we need to put an end to these holidays. yes, have a long weekend, yes get together with family and friends, and sure have pumpkin pie if you can but do away with all the preparation, the buying, the worrying, the angst of it all.
    Better stop, this is turning into a long comment.
    On a smiling moment, maybe next year we’ll be there to share a meal together at this time of year.

    • Goodness, wouldn’t that be fun, Joss! We’d love to have Thanksgiving with you all next year. Won’t it be interesting to see where you all end up after this year?

      I know what you mean. It would be great to do away with the commercial aspect of the holiday. In fact, it seems now like Black Friday has become more important than Thanksgiving itself. So sad.

      Hope you all are having a lovely week! Great to hear from you!

  9. I loved this the first time I read it, still do. Still find myself pondering the ethical questions right along with you. Whether Haiti or right here at home, how do we sit to down to plenty when our neighbor may be wondering if they can feed their own. On a day we are taught to be thankful, should we not also be opening our hearts and our doors to others, grateful we have enough to share.

    I cleared my pantry recently carted it all to our local food bank. Today I will shop, one bag for me and one for the food bank. The problem, I will buy delicacy (fresh fruits and vegtables) but the Food Bank is begging for canned foods, staples. While I know this is about need, it nonetheless makes me sad.

    I look forward Kathy to your adventures in meals in your new home. Can’t wait to read about it.

    Hugs from outside Dallas

    Val

    • Love it that you have emptied the pantry and are shopping for your food bank, also. It is sad that those kind of places prefer canned food.

      We, too, are looking forward to our cooking and dining challenges in our new kitchen. It will be interesting to see what develops.

      Great to hear from you, Val. Hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving! Hugs to you, too!

    • Yes, after Thursday I will definitely have an Ecuadorian Thanksgiving to write about. I fear, however, that it won’t be as exciting as the one in Haiti. We aren’t even cooking. Going to a restaurant instead. I know. Huge cop-out, right?

      Happy Thanksgiving to you all, as well, my dear. Are you all going to your in-laws? I forget.

      • Yes. Off to the in-laws. This year, only for a short time though. My Rosie had to have emergency surgery on Wed–too long a story to post here. It’s rough. She’s in the Cone of Shame for the next two weeks…… I can’t seem to catch a break. The quicker unlucky 2013 leaves my sight, the better! That, or else, Murphy can take his law and stop the damn love affair he has with me!

  10. Thank you for that thoughtful post Kathy. Yes, those of us who are lucky enough to live in the western world with access to almost anything we want and can afford, we sometimes forget those in a less fortunate position in the hustle and bustle of preparation for the day.
    While we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in New Zealand our biggest celebration of all the year is Christmas. Christmas with it’s overloaded dinner tables and gift laden trees. An over abundance in any terms.
    A few years ago, seeing the abundance (yes that word again) in my shopping trolley I determined that if I couldn’t help all those in NZ who were going without at this festive time, I would help one family. And so each year I put together a large chicken, stuffing mix, potatoes, vegetables and gravy mix – the stuffing and gravy mix in case they do not know how to make these things from scratch. Then I add NZ’s favourite Christmas berries, strawberries and blueberries, put the whole caboodle into a box and deliver it a couple of days before Christmas to the Salvation Army for giving to a needy family.
    I think this is the first time I have told anybody this, but the joy and satisfaction I get from this small action I am sure far outweighs the pleasure that the receiving family gets.
    We can’t help everybody but we can all help somebody as my mother always told us.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Sara and reciprocal hugs from New Zealand.

    • Oh, Judith, that’s a wonderful thing to do for Christmas. Since no one can help everyone, your decision sounds perfect! You have a dear heart, my friend.

      I have to admit, however, that although Thanksgiving is important to us, Christmas is even more so. Gosh, I love the holiday! And I’ll admit, I’m going to miss my family this year. Fortunately, we have dear old friends from the US coming in for the holiday. That will be fun, I’m sure.

      Hope your week is going well. It’s wonderful to hear from you. Thanks so much for stopping by. And hugs to you from both of us!

  11. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Sara, Kathy. I remember reading the original version, and enjoyed the rewrite as well. I have similar feelings about feasting when so many are having to do without (even here in the U.S., especially now that the federal government has cut back funding to the food stamp program).

    • Gosh, I had forgotten about the food stamp cutbacks. Not a good time of year for that, is it? Glad you enjoyed the varying versions of this post, Robin. Thank you so much! Hope you and your family have a lovely Thanksgiving! Will you get to cook in your new kitchen?

      • Not this year. I have an oven (with a thermostat…lol!) that’s working because it’s electric, but the stove top is gas and not connected yet. The cabinets aren’t finished yet, either, so I can’t unpack and most of my kitchen tools are still in boxes.

        I did some work with the food bank last weekend (packing holiday food boxes for needy families), and am going to look into working with them on regular basis. This area has a super high unemployment rate, and the food stamp cutbacks have hurt a lot of people. I saw Chatter Master’s comment and love the idea of each one help one. Very similar to what we did when I worked with an adult literacy program (“each one teach one”).

      • I had wondered if you would try to pull off a meal with a half-baked kitchen–lol. You are wise not to try. Though I’m happy to know you have a thermostat!

        I also think it’s great that you will try to volunteer for the food bank. Didn’t know there was high unemployment in your part of the country, but the cut in food stamps has to be killing folks during this time of the year, especially.

        Have a wonderful holiday, my friend! Great to hear from you!

    • Thanks, Cindy. So glad you enjoyed the varying, and hopefully improving, versions of this story. It’s wonderful to hear from you this morning. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Turkey Day up there on your lovely, little island!

  12. Thanksgiving is such a tradition; one that we almost take for granted. It’s good that Thanksgiving in Haiti keeps you thinking about how to do more for those with less. And you’ve got me thinking too. Thank you!

    • The thanks goes to you, Terri! Great to hear from you.

      You’re right. It’s such a tradition, that we rarely give the holiday much thought–just go through the motions without question.

      Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. Hope you have a lovely holiday with your family!

  13. ~~~One of my favorite posts EVER))))!
    My heart just melted all over the floor into a big puddle.
    Happy Thanksgiving to You & Sara.
    You both thrill, educate, and delight me. xxxxxxxXXxx
    PS. please get lots of photos of your Thanksgiving in Ecuador.

    • I’m delighted you enjoyed this post, Kimmy! Your praise has made my day. How wonderful to hear from you! Hope you have a lovely holiday. And I’ll do what I can to take photos tomorrow! Great to hear from you on this Thanksgiving eve.

  14. Your Thanksgiving in Haiti post is a classic. In fact, I place it higher than a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to the new series of Kathy and Sara Soon To Be Holiday Classics in Ecuador. I wish you both a Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Yes, we are looking forward to Thanksgiving in Ecuador, and, eventually, endless posts about the event. Unfortunately, I don’t think this year will be very exciting. We’re only going to a restaurant–no cooking challenges involved. Are you going to celebrate with Martini Max and his family again? Have a great holiday, my friend!

  15. It is difficult to enjoy a bountiful feast when so many cannot. Living in a different country sure highlights how spoiled Americans can be. The other day I was complaining about the heat in our flat since it really doesn’t get that warm. My partner reminded me that we aren’t in America anymore and there are many who don’t have heat. It shut me up pretty quick.

    A beautiful and entertaining post. I wish you and Sara a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the meal at the restaurant. I think we plan on going to a pub. The Better Half has to work and there’s no way I want to tackle cooking a Thanksgiving feast. Cooking is not a skill I possess. Eating is, not cooking.

    • Yes, we’re able to see things differently when living outside the US, aren’t we? Kind of puts everything in perspective.

      Sorry to hear you’re cold. It gets chilly here at night. For example, it was 49 degrees when I woke up this morning, and we have no heat in our house. It gets chilly. However, it warms up to 70 or so every afternoon.

      Great to hear from you. Sorry you won’t be undertaking the Thanksgiving meal. I don’t cook nearly as well as Sara does. Happy Thanksgiving to you both!

      • No heat? Do you have a fireplace or anything? 70 in the afternoon sounds wonderful. Almost the perfect temp! I leave the cooking to my partner. Even my dog won’t eat my cooking.

      • No, we don’t have a fireplace. We wish we did. Next house will have one, for sure. We have electric space heaters, but don’t really need them. The sun, intense at this latitude and altitude, heats up the house during the day and keeps it cozy enough at night–that is until the next day’s warming.

        Hope your week has gotten off to a good start.

  16. Holy Stuffing I love this story. I carry your pondering with me. So much to think about. Balancing celebration with helping others who can’t celebrate…. I like the comment that said we can’t help everyone but we can help someone. If everyone who can help someone, helped someone….wouldn’t this be a beautiful world ?

    • Thanks, Colleen. So glad you enjoyed it!

      Yes, I thought the idea of focusing on helping one family was a terrific option. I’m going to think how we might be able to do something similar here in Cuenca.

      Hope you and David and family have a wonderful holiday! Are you going to cook? Or have I already asked you that? My memory is failing. Where’s my clothes pin? lol

      • Ha! Did you find your clothes pin? If you did, send me one. I cant remember if you asked! I did make home made macaroni and cheese, stuffing and a couple of mousse pies,one of which made it safely to the destination. We had a wonderful day. I hope you and Sara had a day full of blessings. :) Hugs !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • What? Clothes pins? Why are you asking about them? LOL

        No, seriously, I saw you pie fiasco. So glad one made it. I bet the mac and cheese was great.

        Sorry to say, we had a HORRID Thanksgiving dinner. Lesson learned–don’t go out for a traditional North American meal in South America. Duh! What were we thinking? But we DID have a wonderful day.

      • Oh, PLEASE tell the story of the dinner! Sorry it was horrid. But if I ever make it to Ecuador, I will not go out for a traditional North American meal. ;)

        The mac and cheese was INCREDIBLE. :)

      • Gosh, sorry to be so late responding. It’s been a crazy-busy few days. I will tell the story. I promise. There may not be a lot to tell, just how exceptionally bad the food was. Wish I had had some of that mac and cheese!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Wonderful post, Kathy. That you thought deeply about the Thanksgiving dinner tells me that you do care and you’re very much aware of the suffering around you. You helped me remember, too. The happiest of Thanksgivings to you and your partner.

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad to hear this post spoke to you. Celebrating the holiday in Haiti had a huge impact on me–forced me to think about hunger in new ways–not that I have ANY answers. Maybe I only realize now how many I DON’T have.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. It’s wonderful to hear from you!

  18. What I loved most about this post (before and now) is that you are not thinking about what time the stores open for holiday shopping .. rather you’re pondering on how you can make a difference, always.

    I hope you have a happy/fun time with your friends at the restaurant — and while some things won’t be the same, it’s what’s making it different that’s so special, right? :)

    Cheers! MJ

    • That’s an excellent point, MJ. Sometimes different is good. In fact, I don’t think I have ever in my life had Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant, so that will be very new and special in its own way.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the various versions of this post. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! I love hearing from you!

  19. Thank you so much for this great piece of observations. Paula & I are in Tena for this holiday, and we will not be celebrating with friends or family, except on the internet. But I applaud your thoughts on the lack that so many have & we as Americans assume is our due…for what I have no idea:)
    I do so hope we will be celebrating Christmas in Cuenca & will be able to spend some time with both of you. If you have caught the trials & tribulations we have posted on FB since we arrived in Ecuador you will know we are not even sure we will make it to Christmas here.

    • Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed the post and my reflections on the holiday. It’s good to hear you will be in Cuenca for Christmas. Sorry about the struggles you’ve been having. Hang in there and be in touch. It’s great to hear from you!!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks so much, Darla. It’s wonderful to hear from you. Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving, as well. We had a great day–though lots less exciting than our Thanksgiving in Haiti. Guess it wouldn’t have taken much! LOL

  20. Wonderful reflections, Kathy. Life is a never ending series of “live and learn” moments, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing your insightful adventures. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • It’s wonderful to hear from you, Maryanne. And I’m so sorry it has taken me a few days to get to these comments. Glad you enjoyed the post. We did have a good Thanksgiving–good time with friends, that is–BAD food. Alas. Still, it was a good day. Hope you’re well, my friend!

  21. So what did you do for thxgiving in Ecuador this year?
    Well, as long as you paid for the groceries to have that meal in Haiti. Preferably local ingredients. Anyway, I have gone through homesickness after being on the road travelling for 3 wks. But my theory is that I can turn anything into Chinese cuisine, as long as I have a small soy sauce bottle. It’s more the cooking technique than just ingredients.

    • I’m not much of a cook myself, but my Sara would totally agree that cooking is largely about technique. I wouldn’t know a “technique” if it hit me over the head. Sad.

      To be honest, our Thanksgiving in Ecuador was fun in terms of people, but so great in terms of food. Oh, well, better luck next year.

      Great to hear from you, Jean. Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend.

  22. Ditto re what Virginia wrote, Kathy — your Thanksgiving post is a classic and am now looking forward to the new Holiday Classics series. :-)

    A joy to reread, and thought provoking. It calls to my mind something Leo Tolstoy said on seeing the peasants’ condition, “What, then, must we do?”

    • This was a fun post to write, but an even more interesting experience to live. Now we are into my Christmas craft series–same topics as last year, only new designs. You may have seen them by the time I finish with these comments. So wonderful to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  23. Great post! I guess I’m a tad late with Christmas coming and all…. But, I get it.. I too over pack and I bet I too would have traveled with pumpkin in my suitcase.

    Anyway, you bring up an interesting point about the contrast of over fed as opposed to not fed enough…I’m sure with your very real experience, you will carry forward a different sort of awareness throughout your travels and I think it’s sort of a gift.

    Wishing you a very happy holiday,
    Lindsey

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