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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

It's turkey day!!  *gobble gobble*  I think I'm a lover of all holidays, and turkey day is definitely one of the best. I have fond memories from my childhood, and I love creating new ones.  Let's rewind back and go down memory lane...

As a child, I would wake up to the smell of turkey.  My mom would wake up super early to start cooking the birdie, and I would get so excited for our yummy meal.  Let me just tell you that my parents never ever cook anything that is remotely American -- just Chinese and more Chinese.  Thanksgiving is a time when I had a very traditional (to me) American meal with my very Chinese family.  I wonder how it all started and why my parents began this tradition.  Thanksgiving is just one of the two days that my parents ever closed the restaurant, and I think that added a special factor to the day.  We had a whole day to celebrate a holiday as a family with no customer interruptions.

I would turn on the television to start watching the Macy's day parade while getting dressed and ready for Thanksgiving lunch.  I loved watching the pretty floats and elaborate costumes and performances.  I still watch the parade, but there's just no smell of turkey in the air that early in the day.

My sisters would be in charge of making mashed potatoes, and we had two sets.  One set would include milk and butter for all of the sane people in the house.  Then we would have another set of mashed potatoes with nothing added, just plain old potatoes.  That batch would be for my health conscious sister who later discovered her joy for baked potatoes with tons of butter and sour cream.  Other delicious sides would be a mix of American and Chinese food.  We always had Pillsbury crescent rolls, and that's my parent's guilty pleasure.  So now I try to bake a batch of crescent rolls every year to relive those joyous moments.

Once all the food was ready, we would sit down as a family.  This would become more rare as I got older.  Sisters would leave the house after finishing college.  Some would get married and start their own Thanksgiving traditions without the rest of us.  I stick to my old memories because I especially enjoyed them.  I am between 9-13 years younger than my sisters, and by the time I could start remembering my Thanksgivings, holidays were the only time spent together as a family around the table.  I savored the moments when I could feel that our family was complete with every single member at the table.  To this day, it is extremely rare.  We do try to get together for Christmas (not the actual day) and Chinese New Years, but it's just to make my parents happy.  It's never for us as a whole complete family.  We never have discussions as a whole, just multiple small conversations between certain people.  I cling onto the memories of the past because we no longer celebrate Thanksgiving as family.  Sadness.

Lai Family Circa 2003?

Lai Family - June 2010
Photo Courtesy of Jubilee Photography

Being raised in such a traditional Chinese family, it sounds kind of odd to have such fond American Thanksgiving memories.  I am thankful for those memories that I can still retain.  I want to have the same kind of celebration with my own family one day, and I want my kids to smell turkey in the air and get super excited.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Safe travels to those who will be on the road this weekend!


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