It’s Thanksgiving Day and I am grateful to be spending the holiday at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where I’ve been in residence for the past three weeks. I will have the pleasure of enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the other artists currently in residence. For someone who lives alone, this is definitely a great way to spend the holiday.
I remember the first time I spent Thanksgiving away from home. It was 1976 and I was just 22, living in South Korea as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the city of Jeonju. Korea doesn’t celebrate our Thanksgiving, of course, although there is a similar fall harvest festival that comes close. There were only a couple of volunteers who lived in my city, but there were other foreigners, mostly missionaries and others working at the Presbyterian Medical Center and I had been invited to the home of one of the missionaries for a traditional dinner. It was very kind of them to invite me and after almost 11 months of kimchi and bulgogi and jiajiangmyon, it was wonderful to have a home-cooked American meal.
I’m afraid I don’t remember much about the event. I’m sure there was a prayer, but I don’t recall the occasion being overly religious otherwise. I think the house was Western style, complete with real sit-down toilets (as opposed to the squat toilet in the outhouse that I’d become accustomed to). The one thing I do remember, however, is that we did not have turkey. I’ve always loved roast turkey, so I’m sure I was disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that turkey was not readily available. Koreans do eat chicken, though, so my hosts had roasted a couple of chickens for the feast. Close enough!
Today I’m anticipating turkey and dressing, assorted other traditional menu items, and pie. And, as always, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be at VCCA to work on my writing.