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21.11.10

Thanksgiving On The Far Side

American ex-pats occasionally bring some of their home culture with them. You have to keep in mind that many ex-pats live outside the country because of the oppression and tyranny back home. I'm no different. I was attacked and impovrished by Child Protective Serives (CPS) because of my politics.

I was intimately involved in the Texas separatist movement for many years. They tried a number of times to get me. My father was also a major enemy of the Bush family mafia, and since he was dead, they wanted to pound me into submission.

Basically, my wife got hooked on Xanax, which like other depression "cures", causes a complete break with reality. When she disappeared with our children, CPS at the behest of political forces saw an opportunity to get me. They could find nothing to hang on me. They had no proof that I had committed any crime. So their solution, which they use quite often, is to delay and hem and haw until you are completely broke and can't fight anymore. My fault was nothing more than disagreeing with fascism and having the gaul to fight back.

So, like many ex-pats I know, I have left the American pile of pullshit behind. But, I still have certain customs that are a part of my life and my memories. Thanksgiving is one of them. Giving thanks to the Universe for my life and my small successes seems like a pretty darned good idea.

furthermore, a lot of Indonesians are deeply curious about Americans and the life we live. The only image they have of us is what they see in movies and on TV. Think about that. How much of what you see in the media actually reflects your real life? None.

So, when I said I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, a number of friends wanted to join, taste some of the traditional foods and take part in a well-known American holiday.

I had to make some concessions: some of my friends are muslim, so the food has to be halal; I have to work Thursday, so the celebration will take place on Friday; and turkey is about $100 a kilo here, so I will use chicken instead. However, I will make the sage stuffing, my famous mash potatoes, my world-famous spaghetti sauce, and cheese brocolli. My girl-friend is making bakso soup (bakso is a Chinese meatball) and some other Indonesian favorites.

So far, there are about 20 people on the list for dinner. To a person, they have all asked me what is the story of Thanksgiving, so I've had to discuss the whole history of European invasion of North America.

The first time I celevrated Thanksgiving outside America was when I lived with my family in Dublin, Ireland 30 years ago. We could get a turkey, but it was tough and dry...not like the factory-raised Butterball. What was special about that holiday is it drew us together to perform a ritual we have all celebrated all our lives. There is a warm feeling that comes with rituals.

This year, I am using ayam kampung (village chicken). Ayam kampung is halal, not to mention healthier than the factory birds available at home. They are raised within a mile of my house, have never had growth hormones or vaccines, and are young pullets, so they should be tender and juicy.

The chickens will be slaughtered and plucked on Thursday morning. I will pick them up and prep them Thursday night. Friday, I will cook all day to make enough food for the folks who are coming. Indonesians love anything free, especially food, so I figure at least 30 will actually show up. I'm cooking four chickens, five pounds of potatoes, an acre of brocolli, and enough meatball soup to feed an army. I even bought an oven just for the occasion.

Oh, and the best part is I am making a traditional Texas beverage to compliment the food: margaritas. Picked up a liter of Sauza in Singapore just for the celebration. None of the Indonesians coming for dinner have ever had one. Should be fun!

This is my first Thanksgiving since coming to Indonesia. I have finally reached to point where I can host the celebration, so I have something to celebrate. Thank God for success for hard work. Thank God for a good woman to help me. Thank God for friends who took care of me when I went blind. And thank God for the freedom I have found here in Indonesia.

Just hope my friends and family back in the gulag can one day celebrate also.

And thank God that my children are healthy and growing up well. I hope someday they will take up my fight and finish the job.

I hope they will continue to celebrate this tradition, mindful of its real meaning.

And finally, thanks to the people and nation of Indonesia for letting this crazy foreigner to come here and live his dreams and be part of this amazing country.

I can't wait for the chicken and stuffing sandwiches on Saturday!

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