Posted by: 1of10boyz | November 24, 2013

Sanity costs how much!


One of the real challenges here in China is finding things that help you remain sane. I am talking about not going crazy from the weirdness that is normal here. Sure different it great most of the time but there are times when things need to be, well, normal.

Normal comes at a cost. Sometimes we buy things here and shake our heads at the price we just paid. Sometimes it makes sense to pay the price even though you know, really know, that you should NEVER pay that price. Never! An example of that is easily made with the following illustration. We purchased a can of sweet corn at the market, you know from my other blogs that corn here in China IS NOT sweet corn. It is likely not any different than the corn that is grown in the mid-west US for ethanol, animal feed, or even for grinding to make corn chips and tortillas, but it certainly isn’t meant for consumption in my opinion.  So it really is necessary to buy the US branded product to get something that is edible.

Oh, trust me, it isn't the same stuff here in China.

Oh, trust me, it isn’t the same stuff here in China.

I paid 30 RMB for a can exactly like this, sure RMB looks like Monopoly money but it isn’t. It is actually exchanging at about 6.12 RMB per $1 USD, so that is pretty close to $5 USD for that can of corn. I know you could go to any supermarket in the US today, right now, and pay less than $1 USD for the same can. But, you know what, I am darned glad to have that can of corn. This is something that belongs on the table during a Thanksgiving dinner.

As we enter the Thanksgiving week for America, I am indeed grateful and thankful that I can get some of those things that will make this week feel a little like normal. I appreciate that I can have those things here, so far removed from my normal life.

One of the biggest holidays in America has to be Thanksgiving Day. It is one day when most families will try to get together and share a meal. Many family members will travel for hundreds even thousands of miles so that they can spend that day with their family. The fact is I would love to travel back to the US and spend that time with my family. Growing up it was a rather large gathering for me and my family. It most often was at my Paternal Grandparents home. Most of my Dad’s siblings remained pretty close to where they grew up while I was young; something that isn’t so true anymore. My grandparents had 12 children and during those Thanksgiving gatherings those children that could make it and their brood of kids made quite a bunch of people. It seems to me that when we were having those gatherings in the late 1970s that there we likely 50-60 people trying to gather for dinner, no small task for a meal. Much of that has changed now, only 4 of my grandparents children live in that area now and the grandchildren, my generation, are spread out much further than my grandparents would have ever believed possible. I doubt they would have believed it if someone had told them they would have a grandchild living in Communist China. They certainly wouldn’t have believed it about me.

My wife’s family also enjoyed a big Thanksgiving dinner with her Paternal Grandparents, all of her father’s siblings and their parents had moved to Southern California and they enjoyed a Thanksgiving together. So this holiday is a big part of our family heritage. To be so far from all of that and our own children is very difficult. This is compounded by the sheer strangeness of living here and every day seeming just like the next. That monotony for my wife can be a little overwhelming and the silence of “small voices” here in our home does nothing to help her feel better about this experience.

One of the things that we learned from our experiences of living all over the US while I was serving in the US Navy and working with our little family away from all of our families was that we had to try and keep some family traditions alive. Thanksgiving is one of them that we are keeping alive, it will certainly be smaller than what I experienced with my grandparents. Even the company party, with all of the employees attending, was likely smaller than what we had together as a family.

I am lucky this year, we are going to have our own little Turkey Day party, sure I have to work that day and I won’t be getting to see any NFL (American football, is there really any other kind of football?) during my party here in China. I will however have some real turkey, I promise I paid way more than I should have for that bird. I would have walked right past birds priced at this price in the US and quite loudly stated that you would have to be an IDIOT to pay that price for a turkey. I would be absolutely certain that no one in their right mind would pay 75 RMB per kilogram for a turkey AND pay an additional 12 RMB per kilogram to have it delivered (sure in the US you don’t have to pay for shipping from the middle of China to your door but I do). I am again darned happy to have those 12 pound turkeys in my house. I got one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas just because I could. So, I am certainly spending more on my Thanksgiving Day meal than I should have, but what am I really buying? Sanity. Pure and sweet, SANITY.

one is 12 pounds and the other is 15 pounds. Both should fit into my queer little oven here in China, so long as I do them one at a time.

one is 12 pounds and the other is 15 pounds. Both should fit into my queer little oven here in China, so long as I do them one at a time, if nothing else the breast gets baked and the dark meat is going into the crockpot.

Next year I will try to find me a farmer nearby that is growing turkeys. I have heard rumors that there is someone here doing that. So far, that turkey farmer is as elusive as the mythical unicorn.

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