By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
In this season of gratitude, I’d like to try something revolutionary. Call it my personal exploration. It’s challenging and fun for me and, perhaps, for you as well. But it makes sense to take a break from what you normally do. I know my list might piss off some narrow-minded folks, but do I care?
1. No turkey
Do you have to eat Turkey on Thanksgiving? Not really. I haven’t liked turkey since the day I arrived in the United States. Someone argues, it’s an American tradition, and you should follow it. Hey, I am a patriotic American. And I am deeply rooted in America’s values such as kindness, giving back, helping others, and speaking out. But that doesn’t mean that I have to eat turkey.
My Korean friend seconded my sentiments. He said no one in his family likes the turkey. His Thanksgiving dinner will be completely hot and spicy Korean style starting with kimchi. How about that?
When my sons were little, I cooked turkey for Thanksgiving to please them. Now, they are grown men, and so I decided to please myself. It takes so much time to cook a turkey, and there were so much leftovers afterwards that I wasn’t thrilled to have. All that time I spent in preparing and washing all the cooking utensils afterwards, and the turkey doesn’t taste as good as a chicken or duck that I rather not have a turkey at all. The only thing I love about the turkey is its bones that I can make soup or congee later. It’s absurd to cook a whole turkey for hours and not enjoy the meat. I might as well just buy bones of fish, pig, beef, and chicken, which have better flavor—are cheaper—and faster to cook.
My Asian heritage provides many palatable culinary options. On Thanksgiving day, I will dine in Asian restaurants: a dim sum lunch and a Japanese dinner.
2. No big meals
This one is extremely hard as Thanksgiving begins our season of feasting till the New Year.
Thanksgiving and all our holidays are focused too much on food, and few on deeds.
Thanksgiving is just the beginning for quantity meals because of the December holidays.
And I already have scheduled lunches and dinners with friends and relatives. I can’t afford to eat so many big meals. My body would double in size. A small but delicious Thanksgiving meal would be nice so I don’t feel guilty the entire week.
3. No cell phones
I got this tip from New York Times columnist David Leonhardt. Actually, his piece inspired me to write this blog. Put your cell phone down for one day or even during Thanksgiving week. You may discover you will have more joy, less stress, better listening skills, and better connection to your loved ones and neighbors.
Talk more to people instead of texting. The bad thing about texting is, there’s less sharing. You never see the emotions of the other person. You don’t know how they feel. You center on you, you, you.
4. No internet
This one is nearly impossible. But it’s good for others who are constantly online to get off the screen. It may be a breath of fresh air for them. I am not online all the time as I take lots of walks every day and I love talking to people and catching up with friends by calling them.
5. No shopping
Black Friday is coming up and some retailers open for early shoppers on Thanksgiving night. Not all the items you like offer discounts. Why not skip shopping, and spend time with your loved ones? It’s the time of year you show gratitude towards your friends and family by being with them, not shopping.
6. No reading news
This one is the hardest for me. Every day, every minute, I am embodied and involved with news. That’s my job, my life blood. On Thanksgiving, I swear I would not touch any newspapers. Not online and not in print. I can afford to do so just for one day because there’s very little news on Thanksgiving Day.
Mainstream media have to scramble hard for their front page.
I only read books and watch movies with my family. Can I really do it? We’ll see.
7. No negative thoughts
On Thanksgiving, I do not allow myself to think negatively. Every thought I carry would reflect beauty, goodness, truth, and consideration for others, even for those who are mean and rotten. There are a lot of rotten folks out there, though. Can you believe that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Harper’s Magazine that she prays for Donald Trump, even though the president is her nemesis?
This could be more challenging than I think. That’s why I won’t read the news for a day. The media prints much more bad than good news. I like the Asian Weekly to have more positive news than bad ones. That’s wishful thinking, I know. Yet, it has granted me a sense of awakening to dig up more positive things about people and the community.
I don’t understand why I am giving myself all of these challenges. But if I want to make this Thanksgiving a little different and more meaningful, this is an interesting experiment.
8. No politics
Please don’t discuss politics over Thanksgiving dinner. It will upset the pro- and anti-Trump camps or Brexit and anti-Brexit folks. Make ‘no politics’ a rule at the table. Replace politics with jokes and laughter while you eat. It will aid in digestion, and elicit good moods and smiles.
9. No work
I promised myself that I won’t do too much on Thanksgiving Day. I am on strike so I won’t cook or wash dishes. Our family will eat out. Well, maybe just half an hour to write my next blog. Should I? No, I shouldn’t. It’s a day of rest. I know I am going to debate this in my head for a while.
Hey, I am a workaholic. And I am the boss. I should be able to decide whether or not to work. Honestly, working makes me happy and it’s fulfilling. But relaxation is just as important for our wellbeing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it.
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.