Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Who's the Turkey?


This post about my first Thanksgiving in Thailand is becoming its own tradition.  I love this story because it reminds me how grateful I am that I got to spend three years living and working in this fascinating country.  So here it is again.

I had the good fortune to live and work in Bangkok many years ago.  I was the only American in my office, and of course Thanksgiving is not a Thai holiday, so when Thanksgiving came, I took the afternoon off to go have dinner with other Americans.

That morning at the office, I was chatting with some colleagues.  In an attempt to bridge cultures, I joked, “Even though this is an American holiday, we can all take a moment to think about all the things we have to be grateful for.  For example, you can be thankful that the pilgrims didn’t land in Thailand!”

Everyone laughed politely and I was congratulating myself on the success of my cross-cultural humor, when several people asked at once, “What’s a pilgrim?”

I knew then I had a lot to learn!

No matter where you are in the world, count your blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!

29 comments:

  1. That's a good one Galen!

    I agree, we all have a lot to learn, and I for one always believe that no matter which culture or where you are located - giving thanks is an attitude we should all adopt, and make it a daily habit.

    I for one, wouldn't really wait for Thanksgiving to convey my thanks and gratitude to those I appreciate, which includes you too. :)

    Thanks for sharing, and it's been a pleasure knowing you better over the past year. Happy Thanksgiving as well :)

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    1. Harleena, I thought I had responded, but now I don't see my comment--did I delete my own comment? Ha! Anyway, I said that you are right. Gratitude knows no country borders.

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  2. I love this post as I have experienced the same in moving to South Africa. Not only are they clueless about Thanksgiving, though they now the word, they also just don't know how to celebrate any holiday. The most fun it gets is a family braai and an afternoon nap...cetainly no season of celebration, not even Christmas. First year I mourned the loss of my holiday traditions...second year I just surrendered them, this year I am discovering how to incorporate them in some sensible way and crretae new traditions! And I have just wished all my SA friends a Happy Thanskgiving and like you, challenged them to a day of gratitiude!

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    1. Carl, That's so interesting. When I lived in the Ivory Coast, there were many spontaneous celebrations, but now that I think of it, I'm not sure whether there were regularly observed holidays. I just don't recall now. Thailand, by contrast, had many national festivals and holidays, some of which had been celebrated for thousands of years. Aren't we lucky to experience living in different cultures?! That's something to be thankful for!

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  3. Love the story! :)
    May your Thanksgiving be happy and blessed, Galen!

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    1. Thanks, Martha. I hope you had a blessed day.

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  4. the beauty of cross cultural traditions is indeed magnificent. A part of India celebrates thanksgiving too..owning to the rationale behind the tradition!
    Happy Thanksgiving :)
    Take care!

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    1. That's true. Another blog friend from India described on her blog a wonderful festival of thankgsiving. India definitely knows how to celebrate!

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  5. I totally do, I am thankful for so much. I also am so happy that I discovered your little corner of the world here too, because so many times you have said the littlest of things that just lifts me up way high! Plus you remind me how much I like to get away from time to time- just hearing the words going to the cabin bring pleasure in the memory of those times that I do get away! Happy Thanksgiving in so many ways!

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    1. Karen, Thank you so much for the very kind words. I'm so glad that my little corner brightens your day from time to time.

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    2. Me too! Sometimes more than you'll ever know!

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  6. What a wonderful story Galen!! Travel gives us a great education, doesn't it? We are so looking forward to our trip to Thailand over Christmas and learning about the culture. Any advice would be wonderful. I'm grateful to have discovered you and your blog this year!
    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!!

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    1. Betsy, Y'all will have a wonderful time! Email me! I would love to hear more about your travel plans and I would be glad to share some of my favorite places.

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  7. Haha made me laugh Galen! Thank you for your post today and throughout the year. Why do we all only give thanks so much once a year - why not a year-round event? Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Vishnu, As a matter of fact, I do try to give thanks year round. I keep a gratitude list that I add to from time to time. And I end the day by thinking of one thing I'm grateful for from that day. Gratitude can become a habit and a spiritual practice. Hope you had a great holiday yesterday.

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  8. I loved that! Happy Thanksgiving, Galen. I am grateful for our connection. Love you. Vidya.

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  9. LOL good story and most definitely a learning one at that.

    Happy Thanksgiving, have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. darlin, You must have great stories like this from your recent time living down under!

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  10. I enjoyed this story--thanks for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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  11. Happy Thanksgiving to you too and to your all your loved ones.

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  12. What a great experience. I always wished I lived in another country for a long time. And really experienced another culture. I want the same for my kids but my husband is less of an adventurer.

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    1. Jodi, My son was the only one of my kids to live with me overseas. He lived on four continents before he was four years old! He was an infant in Bangkok, a toddler in West Africa, a preschooler in Paris, and we moved here to Portland just days before his fourth birthday. He still remembers Africa and Paris. Then my daughter Lily did it in reverse--she grew up in China and joined our family when she was a teenager, so the US is her second culture.

      What countries would you like to live in? Maybe your husband will be willing to do some traveling if not actually living overseas.

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  13. Hilarious! And I love your idea of keeping a gratitude list, by the way. I kept a gratitude journal for a while and as simple as it is to jot down a couple of things your thankful for each day, it really does open your eyes to how very blessed you are. A list like you kept might be better though because you could post it where you'll see it all the time. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. Still enjoying your book.

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    1. Kim, Sorry I did not reply to this comment earlier. It slipped past me in the Thanksgiving celebration. So glad you are enjoying the book. There are so many ways to keep a gratitude list or journal. It's an easy practice and it definitely helps keep our blessings in mind. Thanks for your comment.

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  14. successful cross culture humor..

    that's a beautiful idea in itself..

    it is amazing things you can share beyond your culture and feel a satisfaction and joy words can barely describe..

    i really wish i cud live in a place full of diversity with people from different culture and perspectives.. it's the best adventure you can ever have..

    you had that opportunity.. i am sure you had a great time there..

    beautiful post.. really good..

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    1. deepak, Well that attempt at cross cultural humor wasn't so successful, but I did learn a lot from it! Thanks for stopping by.

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