In 2008, I ran a half-marathon on Thanksgiving Day. As soon as I finished the race I drove north to Hartwell and ate absolutely guilt free. In 2009, we opened the doors for Cherokee Town and Country Club's new renovation grand opening. I rang up tickets from the waitress station in the corner. I got to feast on the finest of Thanksgiving cuisine. And again in 2010, I celebrated this day of thanksgiving, serving tea and coffee, no longer mesmerized by the elaborate banquet and cornucopia set before me. I was annoyed that I actually had to work on the floor, be nice, stay as late as I did and just wanted to be with my family. But I got paid time and a half and I got to eat Chef Heather's banana pudding. When I finally got to Carla's, cranberry sauce in hand, I was too tired to even eat. Thanksgiving 2011 is certainly one I will never forget. There were no chandeliers, linen tablecloths, centerpieces with real once live turkeys, no little girls in tights, no petit fours, no butternut squash risotto, no warm chocolate bread pudding. But there WAS pumpkin pie!
Halliburton oil and gas company is here in Pemba. Somehow they found out that we were here and about the work that we do and they wanted to help. So they gave us Thanksgiving! Obviously our kids have never had or even heard of Thanksgiving, but they feasted like professionals. Rumor has it that there were 60 turkeys and 50 hams and I saw with my own eyes the biggest vat of mashed potatoes I have ever seen. But you know me, meat feasts are not my idea of a good time. They also served hamburgers, hotdogs, corn, rolls, mangos, and pie. There was not a green vegetable in the room. I went straight for the pie, pumpkin pie! I sat with the youngest children, two and three year olds. They didn't know quite what to do with all this foreign food. They are used to rice and beans.
I think over 1000 people were served in all. It could not have been more drastically different than my last Thanksgiving, where the meal was prepared by one of the 50 Master Chefs in the United States, with perfected recipes and ingredients. The pastries were prepared by a former Top Chef contestant. My fork was real silver. This time I ate with my hands! The extremes are mind blowing. There is no place else I would rather be. The only thing that would have made it any better would be having all of you join in.
I am going away next weekend with the girls. I have been asked to godmother two teenage girls and am very much looking forward to getting to know them and spending time with them. We only have 3 weeks of class left before we break for Christmas.