I have one big party in me per year, and last year I did a Christmas cookie decorating party for all my badminton friends. It was super fun, but you can’t do the same thing twice now can you? So this year I did a badminton thanksgiving party!
Thanksgiving is tricky in China. Obviously it’s not celebrated here, but the food is so specific it’s a real problem. Like, I can find common foreign goods, like Betty Crocker cookie mix, or cheddar cheese, because those are things that expats from all countries use and enjoy. But stuffing mix? Or cranberry sauce? Even Americans only eat those once a year, and foreigners from other countries like Europe have no idea what it is. So finding it in a foreign food store is next to impossible.
So I needed to prepare long in advance and buy things online. I also have an amazing friend Lita (nicknamed The Cookie Queen of China) help with some mixes like stuffing, gravy mix and others. I also needed to plan out the actual day as I wanted all the food to be finished together, and hot, while I was only working with one tiny toaster over and one burner.
And yet it totally worked! I made a 100% traditional thanksgiving dinner missing only the turkey. (I made chicken instead. Turkey is too hard to find in China, and too expensive when you do.)
I had cranberry sauce, cornbread muffins, french bread rolls, garlic mashed potatoes, chicken breast, chicken wings, green bean casserole, veggies with onion soup dip, gravy, stuffing, deviled eggs and a fresh made pumpkin pie with vanilla gelato. Not bad for a toaster oven and one burner.
My guests were my coach, his son, my friend Yang Ping (who coaches me from time to time) and Azhi. I invited a few other people, but sadly, it was just another work night in China, and as most of my badminton friends are coaches, they all had students that night and couldn’t come.
It was everyone’s first Thanksgiving (besides me of course) and they all loved it. Everything was a novelty, including eating raw veggies (“Can you actually eat raw broccoli?” several of them asked me as they tried it in the dip.) Even the chicken breast was considered odd–Chinese people tend to not like the chicken breast and when I first came to China it was impossible to find at the store. But they liked it all and everyone waddled out exactly as you should after a thanksgiving dinner. I also have enough food to keep me in leftovers for a few days. Total success.
I also got a little activity. It was paper turkeys that you have to make yourself. It was silly, but fun, and everyone struggled with it because it was annoyingly complex, haha.
We also accidentally stumbled on an American tradition, though with Chinese characteristics. We realized during dessert that the Hong Kong Superseries badminton competition was taking place, so over tea and pumpkin pie we watched women’s singles. In America you are supposed to watch football, but I never liked that. Badminton is much more fun and everyone had interesting commentary.
I know not many people celebrate thanksgiving, especially people that play badminton, but I hope you had a happy one anyway. It’s never a bad idea to take a moment and remember all the good things in your life.
Obviously I’m thankful for badminton, and the places that badminton has brought me in my life. What about you? What are you grateful for?