We all have traditions surrounding the holiday season that seems to start mid October and end with a flourish on New Year’s Day. (Unless you are from New Orleans and then the season of celebration lasts until Mardi Gras.) Being out of the country is no different but the timeline here is a bit skewed. I guess there are many of my friends that believe the timeline in the States is also skewed. A tree-lighting kickoff before Thanksgiving? Christmas decorations up before Halloween candy? Anyway…some expats travel during the months of November and December and some have family visitors during the holidays. Therefore, many of the holiday parties have already begun and it seems to me that according to the calendar most will be over by mid December to accommodate a variety of scheduling issues.
I have noticed that this time of year in the expat world of Jakarta it is definitely the season of the Bazaar. Many organizations host bazaars as fundraisers and bring in handcrafts from all over the country. They are wonderful places to pick up Christmas gifts or items for your house. The items for sale are beautiful and it is a good thing that many of the same vendors come to all of the bazaars so that you usually have a second chance to pick up something you regretted not getting the first time. However, they can be a bit overwhelming. Your head can swim with the amount of choices there are and I have found that a second lap around the room usually is required to not miss something awesome. I have attended three so far, missed at least one and I have heard that there are one or two more still to come. (Below are some of the things I have bought for the house.)
Indonesia does not celebrate Thanksgiving and therefore are not faulted for starting to put Christmas decorations out in November. They are warming up to the idea of Halloween as a dress-up fun time for kids but Pilgrims, Indians, and rival college football does not really translate. In the expat world there are many different cultures represented so the number of people in our circle that celebrate American Thanksgiving is even smaller. There are a few restaurants and hotels that offer a “Thanksgiving Dinner.” Luckily we will not have to resort to that! If Scott is back from working in Kalimantan (another island northeast of here) then we will go to dinner on Thursday at the house of the Jamu Princess. (I have decided to keep the privacy of my friends by renaming them.) If he is not back I will attend solo. On Saturday we will go to Jolene’s house with a large group to celebrate a second Thanksgiving.
It can be a challenge to find the ingredients you want when you have a recipe in mind. Since there are only five ingredients I offered to make Rosemary Squash and Sweet Potatoes to bring for one of the dinners. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? However there are several choices for sweet potatoes here. One is a purple looking mini potato from Japan that is white on the inside. I have not tried that yet. The other option is the Australian sweet potato that looks more like a child’s football! This is the closest to an American sweet potato but elusive and hard to find. I scored one last week in one of the suburbs. You must also buy it close to the time you want to use it because they go bad quickly. They do sell turkeys here and most items needed for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner are available if you are willing to pay the price. I think for most of us it is worth the extra ding in the food budget to have a taste of home.
The company spouses organization had their Thanksgiving potluck luncheon last week and the food was awesome. Real turkey and gravy and a wide variety of choices for sides. Just trying to get a bite of everything filled your plate. There were some items not traditional to an American Thanksgiving but we are an international group and that only added to the uniqueness of the meal. (I will have to hand it to the Brits – Pimms with mint and Sprite is pretty darn good and one of my new favorite drinks!)
As always after a good meal it is time to sit around and chat. This is usually the point where my family begins hanging spoons on their noses and we convince Emily to play the piano. But this is in Jakarta and reality is different here. After some members left early, our hostess was explaining her obsession with closing the door due to “critter” problems. This in turn led to a skin crawling icky story about rodents. Soon we were all chatting amongst ourselves, groups of 3-4 women in various parts of the room when someone noticed that all of us were talking about the same thing, each group relaying stories of cats in the attics or how to get rid of mice (or worse) or some sort of “critter” story. Yes, the secret is out, women do not always talk about shopping and shoes, stylists and spas. What women really talk about is pest control! (Didn’t see that coming did you?)
As for me, I will enter the Thanksgiving portion of this holiday season very thankful for our new friends here in Jakarta and grateful that living in an apartment means no critters!