Since turkey day is not a national holiday in China, we celebrated the Sunday before. Frances took the initiative and invited many of our new international friends (from China, Canada and Spain). At the last minute I bumped into an acquaintance from Minnesota and invited her as well. That brought us up to a total of twelve (14 if you include the two eight month old babies) for dinner in our not-so-big apartment.
The first big problem was what to eat- turkey not being a Chinese staple. Fortunately the Hong Qiao Marriott advertised a complete turkey dinner to go. We ordered the preassembled feast. I was sworn to secrecy that we had not prepared every bit of the meal. Frances spent a day in the kitchen preparing ‘enhancements” so that most dishes had some home cooked elements.
Our next problem was where to put everybody. By removing most of the living room furniture and lining up the dining room table and two desks diagonally through the space we managed to create a long enough table. But we were short a bunch of chairs. The normally helpful apartment office staff and next door hotel concierge were both unable to supply chairs. Frances courageously knocked on every door on our floor asking for chairs. Alas, no one answered. In a last minute stroke of genius, four chairs were borrowed from the apartment complex lounge. Fortunately there were no confrontations with the ever-present security guards.
The meal itself was quite enjoyable. Our guests brought wines from many countries, which flowed freely. I learned that you can eat mashed potoes with chopsticks. The two babies were very patient with our adult meal and entertained all of us. Henry and Jack managed to recall and sing parts of the Alicante, Spain football club song and Catalan Christmas carols. Other than the lack of American football games on the TV, it was an American thanksgiving in every way. Afterwards we snuck the chairs back to the lounge without any telltale gravy stains.