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Many Ways - And Reasons - to Say Thanks
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The Mayflower Pilgrims or turkey and cranberry sauce don't figure high on Thanksgiving Day for Chinese.


For people generally considered shy about expressing their feelings, it's an occasion to literally say thanks.


Sara Wang, 26, an office administrator in Beijing, received seven messages Thursday from friends, wishing her a better life, good health and friendship.


"For Chinese, Thanksgiving Day is not about stuffed turkey or pumpkin pies," Wang said. "Thanksgiving is about showing your gratitude."


One message was from Professor Ma Yubian who teaches Chinese to foreigners at Zhengzhou University in central China's Henan Province.


She wrote: "From what many foreign students told me, I feel blessed and proud of being Chinese. We should be thankful for our lives and the love we have."


If locals put a Chinese spin on Thanksgiving Day, American expatriates were more traditional: trying to eat the de rigueur meal for the day and pining about their countries.


Ted Wright, 32, from San Francisco, tried to recreate the flavor of home. He and some American friends played football at a park, drank some beer and had an earnest discussion on what they had to thank.


"We are thankful for being alive and to be at a wonderful place like Beijing," said Wright, an urban planner who has lived in Beijing for two years.


In the evening, he took two bottles of wine to a dinner party where he was joined by about 20 compatriots.


"Thanksgiving is like the start of Christmas," he said. "It is a time for us to remember home."


Living on their own in a foreign land, some expatriates gained a deeper appreciation for their parents.


"I didn't realize a turkey dinner would take so much effort until I tried to cook this year," said Anna Sophie Loewenberg, a TV producer from California, who made dinner for her friends yesterday. "I started to understand and really appreciate how much effort my parents put in every Thanksgiving."


Some are luckier for they have their families right here and it's the occasion that matters, not the day.


Graphics editor Josh Haller will have a homemade turkey dinner with his family on Saturday.


"Thanksgiving is reflected in food," he said. "My brother-in-law will cook turkey. We are going to have mashed potato and pumpkin pies and punch made by my mum."


For those whose mums or wives are not cooking, Beijing restaurants and supermarkets were more than happy to oblige.


The turkey buffet at American eatery Grandma's Kitchen, priced at 198 yuan (US$25) a person, was booked up three days ago. The Garden Court at St Regis Hotel, which also offered buffet at 498 yuan (US$62) a head, was full before 8 PM yesterday.


Some Americans had to postpone their dinners to the weekend because Chef-to-go sections at Jenny Lou grocery chains that sell cooked turkey at 900 yuan (US$112.5) each were too busy.


"My phone has not stopped ringing. The orders are piled up to Saturday," said Zoe Sun, director of Chef-to-go.


Thanksgiving Day, a public holiday, is observed on the fourth Thursday of November in the US to commemorate the feast held at Plymouth in 1621 by the Pilgrim colonists and members of the Wampanoag native people. 


(China Daily November 24, 2006)


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