Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home. There's no such thing in Bali, and only a pale attempt by the local 'bule' establishments to acknowledge it for the benefit of the few American expatriates here - which is really only an attempt to make some extra money, anyway. Some of the restaurants catering to westerners offer a 'Thanksgiving Dinner', often having more to do with the European imagination and the American reality. The dishes are wrong, the spices are wrong and, most of all, the price is definitely wrong - 300,000 to 400,000 Rupiah (30-40 dollars) a plate. No thanks. I'll take the nasi campur for 12,000 and simply imagine turkey and dressing.

But Thanksgiving is, ultimately, not so much the food as it is the experience - a yearly gathering of family and friends, an occasion both familiar and new with each year. Parents and siblings, aunts and uncles, children, grandchildren; spiced punch, salted nuts, olives, pickles, sweet pickles; all the windows fogged from the from the heat of oven and stove; the basted turkey, the savory dressing, the boiling potatoes and the candied yams; the pies which wait patiently on the counter, pumpkin pie, chess pie, lemon meringue. Women rubbing shoulders, bumping together from pan to pot in the kitchen; the parade on TV, and then the football; your father's yearly argument with your uncle; the dog which is constantly in the way and doesn't care; and the call, at last, to gather at the table, the ensuing discussion regarding which seat should be whose; and, finally, elbow-to-elbow, young to old, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, father, mother, cousin, fiancé, great uncle and grandfather, and somewhere, milling unseen between the shoes beneath the table,  the dog.

Gone now, and not carried on. It is a memory, almost present yet eternally irrecoverable, a story to tell oneself, marvelous and, from here on, missed.

No comments: