Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Eve

It is the eve of the HPAC Thanksgiving.

Several years ago a group of foreigners, including a fair representation of Americans, stumbled upon the shores of Japan.  They brought with them the tradition of relying on the goodwill of the native population to help them acclimate to an unfamiliar home.  In place of maize and wild turkeys, they found miso and seaweed.  The Japanese helped them set up their telephone service, make Shinkansen and hotel reservations online, and translated for them the ins and outs of everyday life, including important looking mailings.  The Americans were very grateful.

These foreigners brought with them the tradition of giving thanks once a year, an opportunity to reflect and eat a lot of food from the land of yore.  And some of their Japanese friends were curious about the tradition and agreed to come to the gathering and take part in the festivities, just as they had openly shared their own matsuri (festivals) and local fare.  Some of the non-Americans agreed to bring new dishes to the table, opening new traditions upon traditions to those already laid.  It was hoped and expected that the evening would be warm and full of gratitude.

One American who had purchased too many sweet potatoes in anticipation of making mashed sweet potations for the evening, thought to take a sweet potato to her Japanese teacher thus establishing a new "Thanksgiving in America" tradition of presenting one's Japanese teacher with a sweet potato on Thanksgiving.  But the ubiquity of sweet potatoes in Japan, her Japanese teacher's ability to feed herself, and the fact that this isn't actually a tradition, all deterred her from establishing the tradition.  Tomorrow she will simply sip the Japanese tea her teacher will inevitably bring her, as they look over kanji and Japanese grammar, and give thanks.  

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