My Chinese Thanksgiving

America is a country founded upon immigration and a myriad of cultures with nowhere to go, hoping for a better opportunity. We were all immigants at one point in our family history. Benjamin Franklin’s father was an Englishman. President Obama’s father was Kenyan. It is in our history to be from other places, but we are all still American.

While my parents immigrated from China nearly thirty years ago, they steadfastly held on to the roots and culture of the Chinese. It comes as no surprise that the most important holiday of the year in my family is still the Chinese New Year. However, they’ve lived in America for nearly thirty years, and we’ve had to assimilate–especially when both my brother and I started learning about all these American holidays when we started school, and not quite understanding why we didn’t do anything for Christmas.

Of course, assimilation in my family did not mean taking the culture and values of Americans and using that as the standard for our household. Instead, as Chinese people have done for centuries, milleniums even, we take parts of other people’s culture and make it our own. We just celebrated Thanksgiving last night, just like every year for as long as I clearly remember celebrating Thanksgiving. Every year, We have a turkey, ham, and sometimes yams. That is where we stop being American and we deviate into Chinese culture.

Chinese Roasted Pork - picture from culinaryescapade.com

Chinese people, particularly Chinese people from Southern China, tend to like our food cooked and warm. This means that we do not eat salads. We saute our lettuce with garlic instead of adding dressing. We add shrimp to our broccoli because shrimp is also something that is nearly always present in large family meals. At our Thanksgiving, we will have bok choy without fail. Having any sort of family dinner without bok choy at the table is just unthinkable–at least to me. Another food item that always seem to be present is the roast pork. No, this is not a roast pork as the Western culture sees it but roast pork as you would see at a luai where the skin is crispy and the meat is moist and delicious. This is our chinese version of roast pork. When you read that, you’re probably thinking that there aren’t any carbs in our menu. When you’re having a Chinese meal, the carb is nearly always rice (again, this is southern Chinese). Soup is crucial to any meal when you’re in a Chinese household; we had lotus root soup last night.

It’s not the traditional American Thanksgiving I see on television shows, nor is it like what my collegues talk about–instead my family celebrates a very Chinese-American Thanksgiving and I like it just fine.

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NaNoWriMo – Day 01

Since 2006, I have attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo. Every year, I go into November with such high hopes and expectations. I plot out my story, I wait for midnight to hit on Halloween night, and then I start writing. Unfortunately, I usually lose focus after the beginning and stop. My word count for previous years look like this:

2006 – 3847
2007 – 11,039
2008 – 271
2009 – 50,447

Just barely, last year, but I made it. The difference between last year’s novel and the previous years was that I actually kept to a single character’s perspective. This works for me because I can get into the narrator’s mind and keep going. It also helped that I had some semblance of a plot.

So once again, that time has come and I have started NaNoWriMo without a plot, without characters, and basically without any sort of preparation. I’ve started with a story, but I’m not sure I like it. I like the idea, but writing in a fantasy world has never been my forte, just like writing romance novels are not my forte.

The majority of my novel last year was written during Thanksgiving weekend. I’m not sure I can crank it out like that this time since it’s coupled with job searching, but here’s to hoping.