10 Things I learned celebrating Thanksgiving 2007 in Beijing:
1) Thanksgiving is a tremendous challenge without an oven.
2) Chinese produce is not what you think, and definitely not the same as the U.S. (i.e. what you think is a sweet potato is actually just another type of orange root)
3) Ordering a turkey was a great idea! May even be better than most we have eaten in the U.S.
4) Toaster ovens can hold up for 12 hours of continuous usage, we only had 1 knob fall off.
*5) The Chinese people have a hard time with "TH" so it comes out as "S." Combined with a bad vowel pronunciation, this effectively becomes "Happy Sexgiving Day" instead of "Happy Thanksgiving Day." This was a point of continuous laughter throughout the party for all cultures involved. When my best Chinese friend said it, I laughed for about five minutes, gained composure, translated what happened, and the Chinese laughed for another five minutes.
6) Wine is key. We went through about a bottle per person between 6pm and midnight.
7) Huge advantage: having your housekeeper scheduled to come the next day. Thank goodness we're in China!
8) Introducing other nationalities to the traditions is half the fun. This year we had Americans, 7 Chinese, a German, 2 French, 2 Mexican, and a Romanian.
9) It is incredibly hard to translate the story of Thanksgiving in other languages. Try saying "pilgrims" or "American Indians" or "Mayflower" in Chinese. You won't find the words!
10) There is nothing better than filling an extended table with 17 of your best friends, holding hands, saying a prayer of thanks, and then having a nice, sit-down dinner followed by talking and laughing till you can't keep your eyes open anymore.
(Notice the sign overhead that says "Happy Turkey Day")
(Only a small part of the feast)